I once stood before a Conservative conference and said it shouldn’t matter whether commitment was between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and another man. You applauded me for that. Five years on, we’re consulting on legalising gay marriage.
And to anyone who has reservations, I say: Yes, it’s about equality, but it’s also about something else: commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.
Me, last month.
Changing the institution of marriage might have bad effects, but there have been none from the introduction of civil partnerships six years ago, a half-way house towards full gay marriage. This implies that previous scepticism about gay partnerships, and therefore marriage, was undue. If conservatism is about scepticism then its scepticism should now have flipped.
Rather than being sceptical about the damage being done by expanding marriage, conservatives should now be sceptical about the damage being done by treating some citizens as less equal that others. If the costs of introducing gay marriage are low, as has been at least partially proven, then equality before the law should now trump diminished conservative worries about gay marriage.