Nonetheless, the fact that a Prime Minister, a Conservative one no less, is willing publicly at his party conference to make such a pronouncement speaks volumes. It is particularly noteworthy given that this was the same party that sponsored the notorious section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988
I have argued elsewhere that this trend in favour of same-sex marriage reflects as much a conservatisation of gay discourses as a liberalisation of straight sentiment. Marriage, after all, involves the acceptance of serious mutual inter-personal obligations that are a far cry from the original liberationist views of early gay campaigners.
Indeed, a key factor in Mr. Cameron's support for gay marriage is the conservatising effect it will have. Far from being a trojan horse of free-spirited liberal values, same-sex marriage represents, Mr. Cameron argues, an endorsement of Conservative values:
And to anyone who has reservations, I say: Yes, it’s about equality, but it’s also about something else: commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.There is a hint here of Mr. Cameron's Big Society - less emphasis on state support for individuals, and more support for private, local and community ties, in this case for the most intimate of all such commitments - marriage.