Gay Marriage: a Tale of Two Petitions (and Facebook)
From a guest blogger: On 20 February the website of the Coalition 4 Marriage was set up. Since then its petition has obtained, online and on paper, well over quarter of a million signatures (275,928 on 22 March).
About four days after that petition was set up another website was set up in opposition: the Coalition 4 Equal Marriage. At the time of writing its petition has just passed 33,000 signatures.
Both petitions can be ‘liked’ on Facebook and even ‘tweeted’ on Twitter. Interestingly the Coalition 4 Equal Marriage site has nearly 6,000 tweets and more than 16,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook. Here the Campaign 4 Marriage lags behind with just over 3,000 tweets and about 3,000 Facebook ‘likes’.
It is tempting to interpret these figures as suggestive of a younger demographic favouring gay marriage and of ‘marital conservatism’ as the line of the ‘well preserved’ and greying in the population. This is very likely true, but it should not be allowed to obscure the fact that, in spite of all the noise and activity of social networking sites, the Coalition 4 Equal Marriage petition trails the more ‘conservative’ petition by a factor of 1:8. Even if a younger demographic does favour gay marriage there is no sound reason why the country should be run by and for a vocal group of 18 to 25-year-olds. With the mean age of first marriage in the UK standing at 29.6, the experience and wisdom of the already-married ought not to be discounted in so important a matter of law and social organisation.
Obviously, we do not know at present how things may develop over the next couple of months. It is not inconceivable that a committed and determined Coalition 4 Equal Marriage will garner more support. It might be foolhardy to venture predictions, but there is one point that can already be asserted with assurance. With so many signatures collected, the Coalition 4 Marriage petition deserves the attention of Parliament. The whiff of rumour that the Government’s ‘consultation’ is not really interested in objections to gay marriage is a matter of serious concern. It is time, dare we suggest it, that our leaders spent less time looking at Facebook, Twitter or the liberal media, and started to take more seriously what the people say at large.