Donald Macintyre's Sketch: The case against? It's all about dynasties, of course

 

Labour's Lord Faulkner had just admiringly described the euphoric scenes in the New Zealand parliament which followed the passage of its own gay marriage bill – culminating in the lusty singing of a Maori love song – when Lord Vinson rose to his feet. To describe the Tory peer as unimpressed would be a serious understatement.

Declaring that the (British) Bill would make "sexless" the terms "husbands and wives", and claiming that in Spain parents were already known clinically as "Progenitor A and Progenitor B", Lord Vinson went on to deploy a genuinely novel argument.

Heterosexual marriage did something that by "its very nature homosexual marriage cannot do". This was the "consanguinity", underpinned and linked by procreation, which joined "two families, two tribes, two dynasties linked by their bloodline thereafter for mutual support and protection". Never mind that gay couples have been known to have children, and it was not immediately clear why they should not have in-laws too. The image he conjured was seductively medieval, from an era when marriage was conducted to end wars and expand territory, kingdoms even.

Two arguments raged simultaneously among the peers. One was over the merits of the Bill itself, which at times transformed the Upper House into a kind of new-age encounter group in which (especially the heterosexual) supporters of the Bill were irresistibly drawn to describe the experiences of gay people they had known well.

Lord Birt, of BBC fame, described the development from the sixties of the late Kenny Everett, with whom he had worked and who had progressed from admitting that as a teenager he had experienced "unfathomable stirrings in the presence of handsome young men" to gradually embracing his "true nature". And the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlile eloquently described the richly fulfilled and stable same-sex relationship of one of his own daughters, asking opponents: "If any of your married lordships would feel any less married if Anna and Joanna were permitted lawful wedlock?"

But the other was over the constitutional propriety of Lord Dear's amendment (vainly) seeking to block a second reading of a Bill already approved by the Commons. Lord Cope was fairly withering on this point. The question, he said, was "whether the Commons or we are the better judges of changing attitudes on matters such as this. I do not think with our average age we are the better judges." Cope was on the winning side last night. Given the approach at least of Lord Vinson (82) he probably had a point.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map