British Conservatives Lead Charge for Gay Marriage
Americans watching the latest push for social change in Britain might feel as if they had stepped into an alternate political universe: Here, the Conservatives are leading the charge for same-sex marriage.
Gay couples in Britain won the right to civil partnerships in 2004, which granted them nearly the same legal status as married heterosexual couples while avoiding the controversial use of the word “marriage.” But Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative-led coalition have launched a historic drive to grant gay men and lesbians the option of also entering into civil marriages, touching off a surprisingly fierce uproar in largely progressive Britain and fueling a rebellion on the right as the party comes under heavy fire from traditional allies in the British clergy.
Cameron supports same-sex marriage and argues that equal rights are a fundamental facet of British values. Click to see some of the other key policies he has undertaken since becoming the prime minister.
Yet challenging tradition appears to be exactly Cameron’s point. The proposal, put forward this month despite the lack of a strong clamor for marriage within Britain’s gay community, is nevertheless emerging as the cornerstone of a bid by the 45-year-old prime minister and other young leaders on the right here to redefine what it means to be a modern Conservative.