Pink List 2013: Politicians
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 13 October 2013
Credit must go to those 366 MPs who voted in May to make the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill law, including the Prime Minister. Several LGBT MPs and party officials played their part in this historic vote.
Mike Freer, the Conservative MP for Margaret Thatcher’s old seat, Golders Green and East Finchley, made one of the more moving speeches in the debate. He said that he was proud of his civil partnership, but wanted to be married like other people: “Many argue that we should be content with our civil partnership – after all it affords all of the same legal protections as marriage – but I ask my married colleagues, did you get married for legal protections it afforded you?” He concluded: “I’m not asking for special treatment, I am simply asking for equal treatment.”
Generally, though, the Pink List politicos got on with the business of being good or bad politicians without speaking out as gay representatives and thus helped to cement the normalisation and equalisation of gay people in public life.
Sexual orientation played no part in last week’s reshuffle, for example. In the Government, Greg Barker, Nick Boles, Alan Duncan and David Laws were neither promoted nor sacked. Stephen Williams, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West, became a minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government. On the Opposition side the demotion of Stephen Twigg from Education to Justice was reported mainly as a subplot in the “cull of the Blairites”. It was only Pink News that commented that he was “one of the country’s most senior gay politicians”.
Another year of progress towards a point where the sexuality of public figures is not “news” – but we appreciate what they have done to get us this far, an honourable mention for our honourable friends: Margot James; Jonny Oates; Chris Bryant; Lord Black of Brentwood; Simon Hughes; Steve Reed; Julian Glover; Lord Smith of Finsbury; Michael Salter; Ben Bradshaw; Nigel Evans; Ruth Davidson; Baroness Barker and Lord Alli.
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