Opponents of gay marriage will be seen by history in the “same light” as those who once opposed mixed race partnerships, one of driving forces behind changing Britain’s equality law claims today.
Richard Reeves, who until this summer was Nick Clegg’s director of strategy and helped draw up the Coalition’s proposals to legalise same sex marriages, said that the Government needed to “stand up to the forces of conservatism”.
And he added that he disagreed with Mr Clegg for a recalling a press release calling opponents of gay marriage “bigots.
“Here’s the thing: they are bigots,” he wrote in an article for the New Statesman.
“In the end, the only reason to deny a gay couple the right to marry is a belief that their relationship is in some way inferior to a heterosexual one. That’s bigotry. I have no doubt that the opponents of same-sex marriages will be seen, in fairly short historical order, in the same light as those who opposed mixed-race marriages.”
Next month anti-gay marriage campaigners plan a show of strength at the Conservative Party Conference. They have booked out a thousand seat venue in Manchester which they hope to fill out with Tory peers, MPs and grass roots supporters to show their opposition to the plans.
Those leading the campaign believe that up to half the Parliamentary party could vote against the legislation when it is introduced into the House of Commons almost certainly next year.
Their main hope of inflicting defeat of the Government lies in the House of Lords where the legislation is also being opposed by Church of England bishops.
But in his article Mr Reeves suggested that they did not represent wider society.
“Naturally, using words such as “bigot” will upset some people – who were never going to vote Liberal Democrat anyway. And the right-wing press will always have a field day.
“But it would show others, including the majority of under-forties in favour of gay marriage, that the Liberal Democrats were prepared to stand up to the forces of conservatism on social issues.”