The other day I found myself in a very peculiar position. I agreed with Iain Dale. His blog post: "FORGET GAY MARRIAGE, IT MUST BE EQUAL MARRIAGE, AND THIS BILL IS DEEPLY FLAWED" was quite right to point out that what is being offered is not equal marriage but gay marriage.
Then this morning I almost fell off my chair. I was agreeing with tweets from Nadine Dorries on equal marriage. LGBT.co.uk summarises these well (even if they come at it from a different angle to me!).
I've written about the issues before, most recently here. And Cllr. Sarah Brown comes at it from a more trans issues focused angle here.
So whilst most marriage equality supporters have been telling Dale and Dorries off for daring to be negative about our beloved subject, I'm willing to be generous and give them the benefit of the doubt. There are two minor reservations on this, of course. I'm not completely naive, despite appearances to the contrary and my often idealistic hopes.
1) Neither of the two of them have been the most vigorously supportive of marriage equality in the past. I very well remember the "well-meaning" Tory amendments to the Civil Partnership Bill which were simply attempts to wreck it and stop its progress. I'm not quite ready to believe that these suddenly sensible thoughts on marriage equality aren't simply attempts to wreck the bill completely.
2) Dorries also proposes seeking the right for a registrar to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages. On the face of this, it would seem to be something someone like me (who loves individual freedom) would support. But I have two major issues with it. i) who pays their wages? ME! I'm not very happy to accept that public servants have the right to decide who they can and can't serve based on their personal beliefs when everyone pays for them. ii) why just same-sex marriages? If we accept public servants should be able to decide who to serve based on their personal beliefs can this extend to other groups based on race, religion, attitude etc? If not, why not?
I have, in my various jobs, had to serve people who were racist, extremely and unnecessarily rude, sexist, dangerous (I've been stalked once by a customer), etc. etc. Do I have the right to just decide that those people didn't need some rather serious problems sorted out straight away just because I didn't agree with their personal beliefs? You take the public's money and, unless they are extremely bad (like my stalker), you have to serve them. Simple. Don't like it? Get a job in the private sector. Become a priest for example!
So yes, I will support Dorries in some of her proposed amendments. I'm pleased with the progress the Government has made, but I'm not going to dismiss any criticism of it just because I really, really want marriage equality (as I've seen many do). I want equal marriage. I want it done right. And I want it for everyone.