I was stuck in Liverpool (also why I’m going to be a while catching up with everything – my reader just hit 1,500 unread links) when this vote passed and my bosses another then nor now could understand why I wanted to be home, watching, waiting for this result and then celebrating with Beloved. Yes, I’m not happy about that.
But I am ecstatic about the result. Yes it was expected because of the support from the Lib Dems and Labour alone meant only a teeny tiny number of Tories needed to be on side to pass it, but it was still a fingernail biting moment. We’re getting closer – I cannot describe how much this means to me, how breathlessly excited I am and how outright terrified I am of this screwing up. This has to happen.
Needless to say, the minute this bill has finished its winding passage through Parliament and becomes law, I will be upgrading my Civil Partnership to an actual marriage; our legal status will reflect our hearts and my faith. The law will not continue to tell me what I am not, the law will not continue to demean my relationship for a second more, I will not, for one instantly longer than I must, wear a label that says my love is not real.
So where does it go from here? The main hurdle is going to be the House of Lords which looks like a much tougher prospect than the Commons. But it’s not insurmountable (especially not with the Parliament Act). I think a far more likely enemy is going to be delay delay and more delay followed by a shed load of bullshit amendments that are going to be used to a) delay the law, b) water down the law or c) push so much crap at the law it ends up collapsing. I think a and b are most likely. It’s similar to what happened during the Civil Partnership debate, when we had lots of junk amendments thrown in (like Brother/Sister Civil Partnership. And Business Partners Civil Partnerships). Hopefully we’ll get some good amendments as well. Still, keep your eyes sharp, lobby the lords and throw crap at the Bishops (or lions if you have them. We really need some lions. If they’re going to play the “waaaah not being able to be a bigot is persecuting me!” card so much we may need to remind them of the difference).
Labour: For: 218 Against: 22, Abstained/Absent: 18
Conservatives; For: 127, Against: 137, Abstained/Absent: 40
Lib Dems: For: 45, Against: 4, Abstained/Absent: 7
(I’m not going to look at the minor parties except a brief glare at Northern Ireland’s overwhelmingly negative response. And, yes, I do consider Absent and Abstained to be much the same since absent is too often a cowardly way of abstaining). And no, the numbers don’t always add up for complicated reasons, tellers etc.
A full list of which MPs voted aye, which bigots voted no and which were cowardly snakes who were trying to weasel round their bigotry can be found here. Name them, shame them and cast out the bigots and the bigoted weasels as the vile scum they are.
In terms of politics, I still hold by the Tories needing marriage equality to try and divest themselves of their reputation of homophobia as it becomes less fashionable to do so. But I think they haven’t made a good job of that. Short term benefit there may be some – I’ve already seen some praising and hailing and refusing to hear bad words about the Tories, but they were Condem stans anyway. The debate was long and it was horrible – really really horrible. The Tory opponents knew no limits at all and said some horrendously vile things which are going to be a severe barrier for any rebranding. And, of course, there’s that 50% threshold – half of the Tories voted against. If Cameron could have squeaked over that 50% in supporters I think it would have been a much easier sell as a Tory victory, a Tory reform and proof of the Tory’s change – even with the haters spewing their hate. But when a law passes so overwhelmingly, when nearly all the no votes are Tories and when the Tories couldn’t even drum up 50% support, but did throw in the worst kind of hate speech? That’s a much harder sell. Long term it will work and it can even be spun in their favour (Cameron did this despite his party’s objection – which I credit him for
Do I think Cameron, May et al have genuinely changed their mind on gay rights? No. Their records are really, really, really clear AND recent. But they’re also politically savvy and know the Tories need rebranding from the nasty party – this is probably going to be the last Big High Profile legal victory for GBLT rights – there will be more to come, but few that will be this well broadcast and be part of such a large societal change. In other words, this was their last chance to put one notch on the “we’re not homophobes” column, - because if they didn’t it’s almost guaranteed that a Labour/Lib Dem government after them would. Look at the result now, imagine a future Labour majority government, marginal (and usually more moderate) Tories removed, with safe-seat (more Conservative Tories) making up a larger percentage of the party and tell me what the result would be? Certainly not pretty.
Do I think Cameron has been damaged within the Tories by the size of the rebellion? Yes. Again, it would have been easier to dodge the bullet if that 50% mark had been passed. As it stands, over half the party rebelled and a significant number of others abstained or didn’t attend. That includes members of his cabinet and 9 out of 14 in his own Whips office. You can tell me this wasn’t a whipped vote and that’s true – but don’t expect me to believe that the Prime Minister introducing a bill and not being able to secure the backing of half his party isn’t significant. Of course, in terms of actual damage to Cameron, I’m not sure how much it will do simply because the Tories are already sharpening their knives – and of all the parties, there’s none like the Tories for going into a feeding frenzy when they smell blood in the water (as just about every precious Tory leader since and including Thatcher will tell you). Cameron and Osbourne already had the piranhas circling them for their generally awful performance, low poll ratings (I think the Tories care more about the latter than the former) and our recession which is now entering triple dip (because, zomg, who would have thought that a brief uptick in the economy during the Olympic year wouldn’t be sustainable? Why we’re shocked, shocked at this news!) and causing consternation that analysists may, at some point, have to use the phrase “quadruple” dip in the future. Assuming we manage to blip out of this one. So, while I think it will hurt Cameron, I think he’s already hurting any may need to throw a sacrificial Osbourne to the wolves anyway..