Gay marriage backed by equalities minister Maria Miller
Reposted from The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/oct/10/gay-marriage-equality-maria-miller?fb=optOut
Conservative party conference hears that the coalition government will not retreat from plans to equalise marriage laws
Miller, the recently promoted culture, media and sport secretary, who has also taken over the women and equalities portfolio from the home secretary, Theresa May, used the Tory party conference stage in Birmingham to send a message to Conservative activists that the coalition government would not back down on the plans to equalise marriage laws.
Campaigners opposed to a change in the law commissioned a poll, published on the eve of the party conference, to convey the level of concern among local Conservative associations about the prospect of same-sex couples being allowed to marry, with only one in 10 local chairs saying the plans had enhanced Cameron's standing with the party, while 70% said they had made it worse.
Just 11% said same-sex marriage should be a political priority now, when Whitehall spending is facing deep cuts and ministers are driving forward key reforms in education, health and welfare, while 73% said it should not.
The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, was criticised last month after early drafts of a speech he was due to make branded opponents of gay marriage "bigots". The extracts were later withdrawn.
Cameron told Conservatives at their annual party conference in 2011 that gay marriage was not just about equality, but about commitment – a core Tory value. "I don't support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I'm a Conservative," he said.
But he made no mention of it as he addressed the party conference at the closing day of the conference on Wednesday, and it was left to Miller to make it plain the plan would go ahead.
In a speech focused on the success of the summer Olympics and the planned legacy to ensure the Games were more than a "footnote in the history books", Miller suggested the Paralympics had helped people to see disability differently, "thinking about what individuals can do, not what they can't", and "treating each other with respect".
On the wider equalities agenda, she added: "As a society we have to make sure that gender, sexuality, ethnicity and disability are not barriers to full and equal participation. Conference, five years ago I stood here and told you that I believed in marriage and nothing's changed. I still believe in marriage. It's part of the bedrock of our society. The state should not stop two people from making the commitment to be married unless there's a good reason. I don't believe being gay is one of them."