Homophobes and other types of dinosaurs

Enoch Powell is credited with observing that all political careers end in failure.

Sometimes when a person exits political life, I do feel sad for them.

However with Jim Wells MLA I do not.

Today he stepped down as Health Minister in The Northern Ireland Assembly.

Unlike Mr Wells dear reader, your humble correspondent is qualified in Child Protection.

So I know that what he said at the hustings in South Down apropos the prevalence of abuse in gay families is without any basis in fact whatsoever.

However, Mr Wells will undoubtedly believe that he has God on his side in this one.

Of all of the political parties that sit in Westminster, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is probably the only one to have such clear religious roots.

Ian Paisley created a church and then it begat a political party.

One of the major campaigns that he instigated that was not connected to the national question or the security situation was ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy’.

This was an attempt to prevent the decriminalisation of gay sex in Northern Ireland to bring it into line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Ultimately it failed.

However, it showed that Paisley and many of his supporters did not just hate Taigs.

Today the DUP is now the dominant voice of unionism in the Six Counties.

Throughout all Paisley’s tub-thumping days, Peter Robinson was big Ian’s éminence grise.

Now as First Minister in his own right he can crunch the census figures as well as anyone.

He knows that if the Union is to survive on this island then a civic unionism will have to be created.

That means that the United Kingdom can only remain extant in the north east of this country if the ethnoreligious bedrock of unionism is somewhat undermined.

Quite simply Peter Robinson’s DUP must attract the votes of people from a nationalist background.

However the ‘Taig in the garden centre’ is unlikely to vote for a party that is clearly thirled to Orangeism and Evangelical Christianity.

The DUP would do worse than to learn from their Scottish cousins.

The Scottish National party has created a civic nationalism that eschews the more toe curling aspects of tartantry.

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative Leader, spoke of realising that her party in Scotland had been “…on the wrong side of history…” apropos the parliament in Edinburgh.

It was a road to Damascus moment for the Unionist Party in Scotland.

Many in the DUP are also on the wrong side of history.

I do not refer to the national question here in Ireland, but to the history of the planet that we all share.

I cannot think of any other jurisdiction in Western Europe where an environment minister would state that the earth was created in 4000BC.

However, a colleague of Jim Wells, Edwin Poots MLA did exactly that.

Mr Poots also had very clear view s on Gay men when it came to them donating blood.

In fairness, he had a similar view of the suitability of African people  as blood donors.

You see Edwin is an equal opportunity sorta guy…

Jim Wells had succeeded Poots as health minister and supported the ban on blood donation from gay men brought in by his predecessor.

Very depressing, but things are a changing on this little island.

For so long we were dominated by holy men of various stripes.

Many of these stern-faced chaps majored in hypocrisy, especially in matters of the flesh.

Theologically the Catholic Church and the Free Presbyterians may disagree on many things, but they’re as one when it comes to the site of two people of the same gender wanting to publicly pledge their love for each other.

However, these are the good old days in Ireland.

The religious have lost almost all of their temporal power on this island.

It is only in the Northern Assembly that deeply religious people still wield political power.

Remember dear reader the unionists in the North East of this island do not want to be in a unitary Irish state because they fear, Rome Rule’.

Yeah, fine…

If people want to do their holy thing, then I’m ok with that.

However, some perspective is required as well.

The Catholic Church does not want my gay friends to be married (for the sake of brevity I often to just refer to them as ‘my friends’), but in other parts of the world other holy men would have them thrown off a high building.

Here in the Republic next month we get to “make gra the law” when we vote on the Marriage Referendum.

Jim Wells has paid the price for being on the wrong side of history.

Today he resigned as Health Minister in the Northern Assembly and I will take him at his word that he has done so to care for his ailing wife and I wish him and Grace well.

One of the most important things in life is that you find someone to love and that they love you.

For the avoidance of doubt, it does not matter if that person is of a different gender to you or not.

However, if your God or your church has an issue with that, then there’s your problem right there.

Moreover, if you cannot see that then you do not just fail as a politician, you fail as a person.

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