The House has voted: in favour 400, against 175, easily carried.
I watched the debate in its entirety this afternoon and was profoundly encouraged. Kate Green, the Shadow Equalities Minister and Hugh Robertson, the Culture, Media and Sports Minister, wound up the debate with speeches that I felt affirmed me, my sexuality, my relationship with my partner, my faith and my status in UK society.
Some MPs were clearly using the briefing material provided by C4M, scare stories of the terrible, frightening dangers that might result from equal marriage. No-one laughed at the speeches, but neither were they taken seriously, and were robustly answered by Hugh Robertson in his closing speech.
What the debate did have was great dignity in the speeches from the gay MPs who spoke (no lesbians, unless I missed someone). They spoke in the context of many speeches from both sides of the House, many from Christians, who firmly rebutted the scare stories, often speaking very personally and passionately.
I have a very personal and partisan interest in this debate and the outcome not only of this vote, but of the whole legislative process. The majority of Members of Parliament understand that the scare stories are simply that, and that lesbian and gay couples seek equal marriage because we model the same values, love and commitment in relationship that heterosexual couples enjoy in marriage.
The debate in Parliament made the debate in the Church of England look depressingly lacking in understanding and lacking in comprehension of how radically social attitudes have changed and how much LGB&T people contribute to church and society. The debate should have a salutary effect on the House of Bishops, Church House, and the Christian lobby groups opposed to equality for LGB&T people. It won’t, of course, because they live inside a bubble insulated from divine reality.
I am more determined than ever to press for radical reform before the Pilling reports and the House of Bishops meet in December. After today’s debate, I believe the Church is heading for an even deeper crisis, resulting from its attitude to sexuality and its inability to articulate a theology appropriate to the Holy Spirit’s activity in our society.