I think it fair to say that one definite effect that government’s proposals for equal marriage have had, thus far, is that of flushing out a sizeable collection of unreconstructed Tory bigots, each of whom is ripe for ridicule.
Yes, folk, we’re genuinely spoiled for choice at the moment, but even with so much low-hanging fruit to choose from, I cannot possibly resist Baroness Warsi’s idiotic intervention, a letter of Maria Miller that, conveniently, found its way into the eager hands of the Daily Mail.
For brevity’s sake I’ll skip the preamble, which is the usual Parliamentary #justaskin nonsense and get right down to the substantive points.
How will we ensure that the legislation will protect religious freedom?
Well, that would come in two parts, one being the government’s ‘quadruple lock’, which I’ve already explained in some detail.
The other part, of course, are the provisions which will permit religious organisations, including the Unitarians, Quakers and Liberal Jews, to marry same-sex couples in line with their own theological and doctrinal views on marriage.
In short, the net effect of this legislation will be to increase the amount of freedom afforded to religious organisations which, as Minister for Faith and Communities, one would perhaps expect Warsi to recognise and welcome – assuming she is, of course, competent to fulfil that role.
What legal protection will churches and other places of worship be afforded from challenges if they refuse to undertake same-sex marriages?
That’s also covered under Cameron’s quadruple lock.
What legal support will be afforded to churches and other places of worship if they’re challenged individually or as an organisation?
As is that.
What legal advice have we sought or received in relation to the proposed legalisation’s [sic] compatibility with existing domestic and European law and our convention obligations?
Dear, oh dear. When you’re getting pulled up by the Daily Mail for a typo and a blatant grocer’s apostrophe in the same word then you really do have problems.
As for the government’s legal advice, it’s not that difficult to figure out what they’ve been told – which is also covered in the article linked to above – as so far as I can, everything looks pretty much on the money, although we’ll need to wait for the publication of the actual bill to be sure that all the jots and tittles are in the right places.
What consideration has been given to the teaching of equal marriage in schools, both faith schools and non-faith schools?
Ah yes, this old chestnut.
Although one would hope that teaching in schools would reflect reality, i.e. that same-sex relationships are found in all human societies and cultures, even the one’s that try to pretend otherwise, and that own own society is now thankfully grown up enough to recognise this fact and provide same-sex couples with equal treatment in law.
However, as faith schools are mentioned, it’s obvious that what Warsi is most concerned with here are much the same issues that featured in the election leaflets she put out during her one, unsuccessful, attempt to seek election to the House of Commons in 2005.
In her leaflet Mrs Warsi, the Conservatives’ first female Muslim candidate, says: “Labour has scrapped section 28 which was introduced by the Conservatives to stop schools promoting alternative sexual lifestyles such as homosexuality to children as young as seven years old… now schools are allowed and do promote homosexuality and other alternative sexual lifestyles to your children.
“Labour reduced the age of consent for homosexuality from 18 to 16 allowing school children to be propositioned for homosexual relationships.”
Later in her leaflet Mrs Warsi is quoted saying: “I will campaign strongly for an end to sex education at seven years and the promotion of homosexuality that undermines family life.”
Last night the gay rights group Stonewall branded the remarks as “homophobic” and called on Mr Howard to disassociate himself from them. He and other party leaders signed a charter promising not to whip up anti-gay sentiment in the election campaign.
Dewsbury is held by Labour with a majority of 7,449. One in five of voters is Muslim.
Mrs Warsi, who has a seven-year-old daughter, stood by her leaflet last night: “It’s a statement I make as I believe it. It is factually correct. Everything in this leaflet is fact.”
The Tory’s big campaign slogan at this election was, of course, ‘Are you thinking what we’re thinking?’ and, of course, what we’re thinking is that Warsi is a bit of a bigot.
Now, it was claimed, at the time, that Warsi’s campaign had been rather selective is its distribution of this leaflet, i.e. that it was only put around in areas where there was a sizeable Muslim population, an allegation that Warsi denied at the time, even though the allegation was subsequently corroborated by The Times (original article now behind paywall):
A campaign leaflet issued last year when she stood for Dewsbury, and in which she is seen wearing a Western business suit, focused on mainstream Tory issues including Europe — “Sayeeda Warsi believes in putting Britain first”. In a second leaflet, in which she wears a shalwar kameez, her concerns are homosexuality, which Labour is accused of promoting, and the “illegal” war in Iraq, which she says “may lead to further military action in places such as Syria, Lebanon and Iran”.
Still a bigot after all these years, eh, Sayeeda?