Went out to check whether the bins had been emptied and the very first person passing by greets me with, 'So whatdya think of the vote then?' 'What vote," I ask innocently (and honestly). 'That gay marriage thing,' says they, 'It's all wrong if you ask me!'
Appraised of the topic I ask whether they wrote to their MP to explain their views and received a, 'Nah, they don't listen to people like me!" And with that, they continued on their way to their blue-collar world of 'done to not done for' folk. This is more often than not the top of the pile in the area I serve.
And there we have it, forget the vote itself and take a step back and look at the issue of representation. I meet more and more people who regard themselves as not only marginalised but also voiceless. There are those who have lost jobs and can't get another because of age, location and the fact that work isn't that available anyway. These people used to be relatively comfortable (well they could pay their bills) and now they struggle and are resigned to being unemployed.
There are those who live within the culture of the benefits system and social housing. These are the people who range from living in a 'hand to mouth' life to those who, perhaps oddly, appear to have quite a lot of disposable cash. What this group all share is the fact that they know what they need and generally get it but the means by which this is brought about renders them as the voiceless detritus at the bottom of the pile.
The last group I regularly engage with are those who duffer some form of limitation or disability and the greatest grouping within this population are those who are mentally ill. The seek to be cared for in an increasingly stretched mental health system where often it seems the greatest goal is not containment or cure but finding a way to remove them from the list! The reality is that they are excluded from help and from relationships that might help.
So here we have it - 'gay marriage' doesn't really interest or trouble me because at the end of the day I'm dealing with hard issues. With families and child protection conferences; with repossessions and hospital visits, sections, self-inflicted illness through many of the various addictions; Sadness and stress that are because of the cancers and Alzheimer's and other 'end of life' (but not immediately) stuff. Because there is sin in the world and it not only hurts God but damages relations and mars His image in us and makes it (the world and us) less than it can be.
This is what the Church is about:
A voice to the voiceless (come and work with me as we attempt to get people listened to).
Caring for those who society and state (stop me and ask me about the number of mentally ill who have lost any semblance of care provision).
A willingness to open our doors and provide a place where all are welcome and cared for (what Church has always been).
Our government has spent energy, time and money showing how much disunity there is in the Conservative party (as if we didn't already know) and how much import they put on things that neither affect nor benefit the rank and file - but then again that's why we have Church.
To care for and represent everyone (and that means heterosexual and homosexual too!).