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Wednesday 23rd May 2012 | 13:14
David Cameron's PPS Des Swayne is well-liked on the Tory backbenches for his no-nonsense, call-a-spade-a-spade style.
A Territorial Army Major who served five months in Iraq, Swayne is noted for his swashbuckling approach. Sometimes, when he feels like it, he will leave his home in the New Forest, swim across a lake, yomp to the train station and then yomp to Parliament once he gets to London.
Anyway, today, Des is leading from the front again: this time on gay marriage.
Check out this video he's made for the Out4Marriage campaign. He says that as a Christian he believes that the gospel on marriage ought to be spread as far as possible to all couples whether gay or straight.
But I particularly like the bit where his eyes bulge as he says 'I'm married!'...
Given the Tory backbench demands for a free vote, this may be a clear signal from the leadership that the party just has to 'Get Over It'.
This morning, a Downing Street spokesman nodded when asked if equal marriage was subject to collective responsibility. "It's a Government commitment," he said. The PM's official spokesman added: "We are committed to introducing same sex civil marriage" by end of Parliament.
The question is whether it is possible to all a free vote to ministers and not just backbenchers on such an issue of Government policy.
UPDATE: Des wrote a detailed blog last year on why he'd changed his mind on this issue. He quotes the Bible.
"With respect to the destruction of Sodom in the book of Genesis, of the five Old Testament prophets who draw lessons on the fate of the city, not one puts it down to homosexuality. The graphic account of a crowd besieging Lot’s house demanding that he bring out his guests “that they might know them” (as the King James Bible quaintly puts it) –and which leads to God’s judgement on the city, is terrifying not because the crowd is homosexual, but because they are intent on gang rape.
"In the New Testament it is the teaching of St Paul which is used to condemn homosexuality, just as his teaching was once perversely used to justify slavery and then the subjugation of women. If you look carefully at the context and sensitively translate the original Greek, then condemnation of gays just isn’t there. What St Paul was rightly against was the inordinate pursuit of pleasure and self indulgence, including the temple cults of fertility which included orgies, prostitutes of both sexes, straight and gay.
"For millennia Christians have taken too great an interest in what other people get up to in bed, it is an unhealthy fascination."
All of which reminds me of this West Wing episode on the Bible and homosexuality. People around the PM often talk about a 'Let Bartlet be Bartlet' strategy. Maybe he'll make a similar speech himself soon..
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