The Conservative Party in England has embraced gay marriage a quarter-century after Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher championed anti-gay laws. The move by Prime Minister David Cameron is an effort by the Conservative Party to move into the modern world, The Washington Post
“We lost three elections, in 1997, 2001 and 2005,” Margot James, former vice chairman of the Conservative Party and an openly gay member of Parliament, told the Post.
“The electorate was not seeing us as a viable alternative in a modern world. But David Cameron came along and changed all that,” she said. “This is a different Conservative Party now, one that is fully in favor of equal rights.”
Britain granted gays extensive rights through the adoption of civil partnerships in 2004 when Tony Blair’s Labor government was in charge. The partnerships granted same-sex partners access to pensions, inheritances, tax breaks, and other rights. Nonetheless, Cameron is forging ahead.
Cameron, who has hosted a summit on homophobia in professional soccer, calls the anti-gay policies of the Thatcher-era a mistake.” The new law would not require churches to perform weddings for gays, but has drawn fire from religious leaders.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, said the proposal is “grotesque” and is supporting an effort to defeat the law, the Post reported.
The Church of England also opposes the law and not all Conservatives back it, with reports that a third of the party’s members in Parliament will vote against it. Some in the gay community are also skeptical.
“This is more of David Cameron trying to drag the Conservatives kicking and screaming into the modern world,” Ben Bradshaw, the first openly gay members of Parliament, told the Post. “Of course, we’ll support it, but this is pure politics on their part. This isn’t a priority for the gay community, which already won equal rights.”
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