Some conservatives believe that now the gay marriage debate is ‘settled’ the Left and the Right will gather round the great campfire of wonder, all holding hands while singing Kumbaya.
It will be a glorious moment when marriage will be seen as the unremitting social good that it is – the Left will suddenly see that light and say, yes you were right all along, we were idiots and let’s enact shed-loads of pro-marriage measures.
We are to believe that the progressives will say, now that the gays can join the great marriage party complete with matching napkins and diamond encrusted flower arrangements, we will support marriage too.
When I hear this kind of argument from a conservative my first thought is – I’ll have what they are having. To see the world in such a rosy way means that they are either high as kites or just woefully naive.
The success of the gay marriage campaign is not going to change the minds of the Left an inch. Nor will it ‘strengthen the institution of marriage’ or encourage others who would otherwise not marry to marry. All of these arguments are a load of old baloney and I will tell you why.
The Left already had an opportunity to support marriage in the form of the marriage tax allowance. This incredibly small measure will come into force in a few weeks. It will apply to all married couples (gay or straight) or those in civil partnerships. Did the Liberal Democrats come and join the conservatives around the great campfire of love? Er no. Nick Clegg slammed the measure, saying it belonged in the Edwardian era.
What about Labour? They were also, let’s say, not supportive. Ed Balls branded the marriage allowance ‘perverse and unfair’ and promised to scrap it the minute Labour got into power. So again, there is another vast space around the pro-marriage campfire.
So what about the ordinary folk yet to get married? Has there now been a stampede by couples rushing to get to the altar, veils flapping in the wind? No. There has been an increase in people getting married but certainly not the stampede we were promised. And the lower socioeconomic groups that need marriage the most, yet are least likely to get married, are not doing so. They are not going to be influenced by their gay friends into getting married. I know this, because, I am a person of common sense!
What my dear conservative cousins seem to be forgetting is that the progressives have a desire for change that is insatiable. That great destination called Progress is always in the future on the horizon called Hope. Thus, when one monumental change is achieved – say changing the definition of marriage – they do not just finish their journey and say job done. No, Sir. There is plenty more change to be made. That is why they call themselves progressives!
The old definition of marriage (and still the definition in some religions) is the following: a voluntary union between one man and one woman, for life, to the exclusion of all others. The requirement of ‘for life’ was ditched comprehensively in the great liberal divorce reform about 40 years ago. But don’t worry, the progressives told us only a few would take advantage of it and there would be no deluge. As always this was a false prediction and the divorce rate is now 40 per cent .
The one-man one-woman requirement that put children at the centre of the union has been ditched also. Now the union is ruled by adult sentiment only (a pretty unreliable basis for a union). I suspect the requirement that it can only be between two people will be dumped next.
In the US, there are hopeful predictions that changing the institution is the first step to trashing the institution of marriage completely.
So do not be surprised if you (having moved on gay marriage) return to bigot status when you oppose the polygamous unions proposal.
The future of marriage in the UK will shape up something like this. The progressives will continue to oppose any pro-marriage measures so there is no top down support. It will remain a middle class activity for gay and straight alike and those that need it the most – the working class – will continue to turn their backs on marriage. They are influenced neither by middle class married couples nor government programmes. In the background, however, the progressives wait and prepare for the next great battle to change marriage so fundamentally it is emptied of all its meaning. No doubt we will be ordered to accept this also.