There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation
Those words came from the Former Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, when he introduced a bill in Canada decriminalising homosexuality. While yes, three thousand miles away I think those words should matter to the issue that our MLAs are debating this week.
I am typically a conservative minded person, like most conservatives I like incremental, organic change. Over the past few years the lobbying for marriage equality has gained traction and like many people I have had to seriously think about whether this change’s time has really come. After all, if you’re a conservative, surely it is important to maintain traditional institutions? This for me seems to be where many people are coming from in regards to their opposition to this proposal. Yet, as Burke famously said
A state without the means of some change is without the means of its own conservation.
Since the creation of the Welfare state, conservatives regularly complain about the interference of government in their daily lives. However, we have before the assembly a proposal that will, in my view, get government out of the bedroom and amazingly some of our most conservative MLAs are opposing it. I appreciate the religious concerns and the other biblical fears that some have, but as Kevin Rudd illustrated last September, these arguments do not hold water in 2014.
I support Equal Marriage, because of my conservatism, not in spite of it. Those core values that the individual should have the right to pursue their own life, liberty and happiness without hindrance from the state underpin my thinking. If two individuals want to enter into a voluntary union, then why should the state stop them? Why should I have the right to judge them? I cannot see the infringement on any other person’s liberty in this scenario, nor can I see how society is being undermined.
Like Conservatives did with slavery, they should be championing this as the major civil rights issue of our generation. Conservatism should be about liberating the individual from state infringing on their liberties, not upholding injustice.
Marriage Equality’s time has come and should be backed by all thinking people from the liberal and conservative side of politics. If you’re an MLA, who prides themselves on these values and are planning to vote against, then you need to really sit back and ask yourself, why you are permitting the government to continue with this mission creep. The simple fact is, it is none of the state’s business, until the liberty of others is infringed. Conservative MLAs should be lining up in the Aye lobby tomorrow voting to bring equality to system and allow many deserving couples-the life, liberty and happiness that they have been denied for far too long.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs