Apocalyptic warnings rained down in advance of yesterday’s debate on same-sex marriage in the Commons. Any deviation from the idea of the traditional family was deemed abhorrent. Society itself was being taken apart. You think I jest? These were, more or less, the exact sentiments expressed by Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips as the vote approached.
“Why failing to stand up for marriage is the reason Tories are always in crisis” thundered the headline, as Mad Mel painted a picture of horror, should her words be disregarded (as they usually are). It was part of “the attempt by the Left to undermine and topple Western society”. There was an “intention to destroy the unique importance of the married family and replace it by a lifestyle free-for-all”.
Marriage, for Mel, is “the safest way of generating human identity, which is necessarily produced by the conjunction of male and female ... children's psychological health - despite the heroic efforts of so many lone parents - generally depends on their being brought up by both a mother and father ... it is socially so destructive to promote the expansion of any sexual relationships outside marriage”.
How same-sex marriage expands sexual relationships of any kind is an interesting one, and a revealing insight into the minds of those who believe that what is written in the Bible (or Torah, or Qur’an) is not merely absolute fact, but also, by implication, law – and that going against what may have been the societal norms of thousands of years ago will somehow unleash divine retribution on us all.
And so it came to pass in the Commons: MP after MP summoned up the word of the Lord in support of their stance, mostly to excuse their voting against same-sex marriage. There was yet more crashingly boring reference to “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” (managing to miss Adam and Eve not being married). But this was mere flailing at the march of progress and tolerance.
When the vote came, the majority in favour of same-sex marriage was a whopping 225, despite more than half the Tories who voted going through the No lobby. Many who had previously entered civil partnerships, or not registered their relationship formally, can now look forward to being able to celebrate their big day and enjoy a status comparable to being, well, just like ordinary married couples.
Yet there are still those in the right leaning press who cannot get their brains round this: the Maily Telegraph told that “Cameron has sown needless discord” and asserted there was no popular pressure for the move. The Mail took a similar line: “there is no public clamour for it”. And it was all the BBC’s fault. The Sun wanted readers to look over there at the Tory split (not at 54% of the public in favour).
We have moved on, pundits. Tear down that wall of prejudice and embrace reality.