Comment: Equal marriage means gay relationships will stop being dismissed as inferior

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Writing for, political commentator Charlotte Henry analyses the significance of this week’s historic Commons vote on equal marriage.

It’s fairly clear what the consequences for our community will be if, as expected, equal marriage comes to pass. More than being about a wedding, genuine same-sex marriage will mean gay relationships will stop being dismissed as inferior.

Ultimately though this change required politics to make it happen, and many of the consequences will be political too.

For Nick Clegg the situation is, for once, simple. He and Lynne Featherstone will rightly be seen as the driving forces behind this legislation, and receive credit from many for this.

Ed Miliband is also supportive of the legislation, and many of his party followed his lead yesterday. While the Lib Dems may have been the government driving force behind the legislation, it was Labour votes that helped it over the line.

Which brings us on to David Cameron. The prime minister deserves huge credit for taking on his grassroots and declaring his support at party conference, as well as determinedly making equal marriage part of the coalition’s agenda.

Cameron clearly saw equal marriage as a key part of his modernising agenda, and has the support of a Chancellor who by all accounts is quite liberal on social matters like this.

However, many Tory backbenchers and activists do not share their opinion, and are letting it be known in no uncertain terms.

The sight of grey local association chairman and MPs outside Downing Street petitioning against equal marriage does not help build the image of a modern Conservative Party.

With a significant number of the party’s MPs voting against equal marriage, it shows that many Conservatives have not changed, and this may seriously damage some of Cameron’s compassionate Conservative appeal come 2015.

I suspect that in a matter of a only a few years we will all be quite shocked, and rather embarrassed, by the fraught nature of the political debate around equal marriage. We will question why we ever disputed whether two people who love each other should be able to get married.

Until then, the debate the rumbles on, and political consequences will resonate far away from Westminster.

Charlotte Henry is a writer and consultant in technology, social media, and politics.

She appears in the media discussing issues related to the Liberal Democrats, media and politics.

Her blog can be found here