Tuesday, 10 April 2012

A Ramble In Favour

Ive seen the news from Thanet Life, confirmed on the TDC website re. Cllr Jack Cohen joining the "other" Independent Group. I'm going to hold fire a while until Ive digested the Full Council agenda for next week. 


Yesterday, I made my first proper comment on gay marriage and spent most of the post tackling the outer issues such as why the case in favour not being made. In fairness I didn't really make the case either, so here's my two cents...
The motion coming before Council next week is:

“Council therefore agrees to submit the following response to the consultation.
“That Thanet District Council:
a) supports the removal of the ban on same-sex couples being able to have a marriage through a civil ceremony;
b) supports the proposal to allow transsexual people to change their legal gender without having to legally end their existing marriage or civil partnership."

My answer, "Yes, but". I don't think the above is a full enough response from TDC against a consultation document which is around 22 pages long and which sets out 16 questions (though perhaps half of them are ones for personal responses). Bearing in mind all the argument that has stemmed from this document, the above isn't really good enough, though as I argued yesterday it's not the motion that matters as much as the reaction to it. Yes, its a KCC issue but it's before TDC next Thursday. Not much can be done about it now so let's roll with it.

For me, gay marriage is about commitment. When you talk about marriage you are talking about a lifelong commitment to each other above that of a civil partnership. As far as I'm concerned, as long as the two people whether gay, straight or whatever, make this commitment genuinely, there shouldnt really be a barrier to it. Yes, divorce happens too, but the commitment is for it to last even if it unfortunately does not. Its a key institution in our society and we should should be encouraging it.

As we've seen in the debate on the blogs, there aren't too many differences between civil partnerships and marriages. I get the point about a man and woman making a married couple, but is it too much to ask that a man and a man be allowed to make the same commitment to each other on equal terms? Whether they really are the same thing depends on the person comparing but I'm not persuaded by the argument that it has to be a man and a woman.

The Church is understandably concerned about this and as Nigel Farage pointed out once you take that first step its hard to slow it down and avoid the Church being shoved further than they wanted to.  This is a big sticking point here and this is why its absolutely essential that in any response to this consultation its made clear that religious organisations should be in no way compelled to conduct civil or religious marriages and that legislation resulting from this must be very clear that its a choice.

We've kinda been here before with gay adoption. In that instance the Catholic adoption agencies were forced to cut ties from the Church in order to remain within the law. As I felt at the time and still now, those agencies should have been exempt on the basis that they provided such a service that it wasn't fair to force them.

I don't think its right for the State to dictate to the Church on a matter such as this and on this I differ from those on the Left who feel that this consultation isn't going far enough and that the Church should open up to gay religious marriage. I see Peter Tatchell has spoken of this and I cannot agree. It's for the Church to decide for itself when it is ready to accept gay marriage. The Church performs a key role in society and should be treated fairly with this bearing in mind its own internal pressures.

Going back to the motion itself, to sum up, its too short a response to be meaningful as representing the views of 56 Councillors and again, the case in favour has not yet been made by those in favour. The debate has only been happening on the blogs and has been led by the Conservatives. You can argue the toss about whether this debate should happen at all but the motion's there and that's that. 

So there we go, that's my view and as this is the second post in a little over 24 hours on that topic, dont expect much more. Perhaps a mention next week but about all folks.


Anonymous said...

Well i am really pleased that tdc isn't wasting time trying improve visitor numbers to this sceptred isle or tackling the budget deficit, but gets straight into national politics.

Anonymous said...

James, when you talk about Conservatives you need to remember that main stream conservatives support marriage equality. It is only millitant conservatives like Mr Gale that do not. As for those that support marriage equality making their case, this why a meeting is being held at the media centre on Thursday. I am told by TIG that its an open public meeting.

simon moores said...

James.. equality already exists and it is called a civil partnership.

'Marriage' is something entirely different in the minds of billions of people of faith, what Prof. Richard Dawkins would describe as a 'meme' in the collective consciousness. It is something that should be treated with sensitivity and respect and not, as many would believe, as we have seen from the debate on the blogs, simply be re-defined to suit the lifestyle of a militant minority group on demand.

Anonymous said...

As a main stream Conservative, Anon 10:58, I would say you are talking nonsense. As a mainstream Conservative I regard the status quo of civil partnerships for same sex and marriage between man and woman as sufficient. Most fellow Conservatives I know, though not all, feel the same way.

Please do no claim to talk for majorities of which you are clearly not a member.

Anonymous said...

Simon Moores expects LGBT people to accept a second class term for marriage, and then he has the nerve to call that equality. Maybe he would like to add to that and have a special word for mixed race marriage as well. He really doesnt get the true meaning of equality (or chooses not to) People looking back at this in a few years time won't be able to believe his ignorance on this. Maybe Laura Sandys Sould explain it for him!

Anonymous said...


most main stream conservatives support MPs, like David Cameron and Laura Sandys postion. You only need to look at Roger Gales history to see that he always back the loosing position.

You'll never hold back the tide and you know it I'm sure!

Anonymous said...

Maybe or maybe not, 19:11, but if that really is Laura Sandys position I think she will have a much tougher time hanging on to her seat than Sir Roger will his, that is assuming he stands again.

As for the nonsense about a different term for mixed race marriages that is simply someone trying to get some allies in the ethnic communities. People have been marrying between different races since time began and it is even more prevalent now due to ease of travel.

James Maskell said...

Im too moderate to be in the "mainstream" on this one. Tom Clarke's got it about right on what mainstream opinion is.

I don't know of any Laura Sandys statement on this aside from a few comments which seemed pretty non-committal. Let's not put words into her mouth...

The entire gay marriage debate boils down to this point of what constitutes marriage and whether gay marriage could ever be deemed equal. It probably wont ever be truly equal (religious gay marriage is frankly out of the question) but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be opened up so that other's can make the same commitment to their own partners, should they feel that strongly. Civil partnerships are of course the "diversity" version, but it seems a bit of a halfway house. I see your point though, Simon.

A public meeting will not construct an argument that they weren't aware of before, 10:58. The meeting is primarily about the supposed homophobia. Gay marriage as an issue was only ever a facade.

Anonymous said...

uncle Tom James ...come outside you won't regret it!

Anonymous said...

what a load of bollocks

Anonymous said...

See you got some seriously intellectual contributions as ever from a certain quarter, James.
Good summing up though from you and I agree about Laura Sandys. Nowhere in local press or on line have I seen any statement from her on this issue other than a comment that it was not something had been raised with her by constituents.

Tim Clark said...

Not sure whether you therefore approve of Laura or not. To be honest you can't have strongly held views on everything and she has been outspoken on other local issues such as live exports, Pfizers closure and poor digital TV reception. She's a huge improvement on her predecessor - not that this is a hard thing to be! It was also fairly easy for Roger to be outspoken - he may not be contesting the next election and even if he does he will still win - a combination of a reputation as a hard-working constituency MP coupled with the fact that Thanet North would return a hat stand as long as it wore a blue rosette.

Anonymous said...

Tim, I love Laura to bits. She is a great person and a really hard working constituency MP. I was earlier merely picking up on someone suggesting she supports gay marriage. I honestly do not know her views on the subject, but I can find no where that she has expressed a firm opinion either way.

My view is, judging by the opinions of most main stream Conservatives I know, that it would make her next campaign that much tougher if she did come down on the side of gay marriage.

I hope she doesn't come out in favour and, if she does, that she still manages to prove me wrong and hang on to her seat. Like you say, she is the best MP South Thanet has had in a very long time.

Tim Clark said...

Thank you Tom, glad that's cleared up.
One final thought on James' original post. Peter Tatchell is an atheist which leads me to ask what right he has to tell any religious group what to do. He has made a decision not to believe in religion; fine, just don't think that you can cherry pick which bits of religion you wish to disdain. You either don't believe in religion, in which case keep your nose out of religious matters or you do believe, in which case try and change from within. Dawkins is another atheist who can't resist meddling in religious affairs but note that they both only target Christianity. Presumably neither of them fancies a fatwa!

Anonymous said...

Agreed, Tim, like Driver they make a lot of noise, but are not exactly the stuff of heroes. They are also very big on hypocrisy.

Tim Clark said...

Actually to be fair to Peter Tatchell I don't think we can call his bravery into question. He has been permanently damaged following an assault by Russian neo-Nazis. Whether he would want to take on the Religion of Peace is another matter.

Anonymous said...

I would have been more impressed with his bravery had he tried to arrest Mugabe in Harare rather than on a visit to Europe.

Tim Clark said...

To be fair that would have been a suicide mission.
I'm not lumping him with Col "H" or others of that ilk but he's not afraid to stand up for what he believes in. The fact that he's misguided is irrelevant. However even he's not daft enough to take on Islam!
Note a stony Twitter silence reference the big LGBT meeting last Thursday. Probably still typing up the minutes of the meeting.