First there was this…
Is Welsh secretary, David Jones, attempting to lead some kind of double political life from within the Conservative party? After a TV interview and a clarifying statement, he still doesn’t seem quite sure what he’s talking about.
Jones says that his reason for voting against gay marriage was that “clearly” gay couples “cannot provide a warm and safe environment” in which to raise children. His clarification: “Since same-sex partners could not biologically procreate children, the institution of marriage, in my opinion, should be reserved to opposite-sex partners.” However, Jones says that he is not against civil partnerships, or gay couples adopting, and he has “people in my life who are important to me who are gay”.
What kind of skewed mindset thinks gay couples should have civil partnerships and adoption rights, then balks at marriage? It’s like a horse that’s just won the “gay issues” Grand National, but then trips over a bucket.
There’s no point rising to the “biological” bait. Some gay parents have biological children, while some heterosexual couples can’t. Should the former be termed “honorary straights” and the latter reclassified as “gay” and barred from marriage? Parenting is not a slave to biology anyway. Many heterosexual families (adoptive, step, etc) aren’t all biologically linked to each other – do we quote the Bible at them? As for the lack of “a warm and safe environment”, does Jones think that gay people take their children clubbing or send them out, Fagin-style, to score amyl nitrate? Jones also ignores the countless cases of child abuse, neglect and murder in so-called righteous hetero-households.
Obviously this isn’t normal for heterosexuals either and there are far fewer gay families for comparison. However, with accidental pregnancy taken out of the equation, gay parents, by definition, must be at least as committed as their straight counterparts. If I were a baby with a choice, just looking at the stats, I’d take my chances with a gay couple over a straight couple any day. Old and ugly as I am, Elton John and David Furnish can adopt me right now. (We might disagree over their spat with Madonna, but I promise to do my homework and clean my teeth.) More seriously, gay parents have more than proved themselves to straight society, not that they should ever have had to, so why the continuing prejudice?
The short, brutal answer is because it’s still there, it hasn’t gone away and it isn’t likely to go away in the near future. It might not be explicitly stated so much these days, it might be disguised as “concern” (bigotry evolves like everything else). However, there are still people out there who firmly believe that gay families are unnatural and that gay people and children should not mix. These are the sort of people who consider gay parents and, in particular, gay male parents, to be everything from a joke to an abomination, and at the most extreme, a clever cover for paedophilia.
These ugly prejudices make no sense, there is no proof or justification, but still they fester, only dragged into the light when, say, a Welsh secretary makes garbled contradictory announcements about gay marriage. I’m still unsure where David Jones stands. A wildly generous appraisal may be that he’s not prejudiced and that this was a botched attempt to cover all bases. That he was trying to appeal to Tory modernisers with a gay-friendly stance, while simultaneously opposing gay marriage, to keep the blue-rinse brigade on-side. You could almost feel sorry for him – is this what its like being in the Conservative party now?
It’s probably a better idea to reserve compassion for gay parents, who live in a society that, despite legislation and surface change, is not going to stop undermining and insulting them any time soon.