The coalition's gay marriage Bill returns to the Commons this evening with Tory MPs and activists deeply split over the issue. Tory critics are attempting to amend the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill to allow heterosexuals to have the same right to civil partnerships as gay couples.
In an article for ITV News, Conservative councillor Mary Douglas urges the Prime Minister to return to core Conservative values and stop trying to impose legislation for which 'there is no mandate'. Only that, she says, is the path to success at the next General Election.
Lifelong supporters of the Conservative Party do not know where to turn. The Party they have served all their life seems to have headed off into the long grass, veering away from core Conservative values. Deeply held beliefs in marriage, as the lifelong commitment between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, are at risk of being discarded without so much as a 'by your leave'.
And it is not only the party faithful who are bewildered and betrayed. Ordinary men and woman are at a loss to explain what their government is doing with an institution so dear to their hearts.
Proposals to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples is a radical change to the fundamental shape society. It would be which, until the last decade, has never been done in the whole of history, in any civilisation, ever.
And yet, 'our' government proposes to do this with no democratic mandate. Not in any manifesto, not in the Coalition Agreement, no Green Paper, no White Paper, not in any Queen's Speech. And against a promise made by our Prime Minister, on national TV, three days before the last General Election, that he would never introduce 'gay marriage'.
A sham 'consultation', of which any tin-pot dictator would be proud! An unfairly weighted Committee and a parliamentary debate in which MP's were restricted to four minutes each. Four minutes to defend the institution of marriage!
The tragedy is that this is being done in the name of equality and yet the result will be greater inequality. Civil partnerships already give the same legal rights as marriage. The drive for 'equal marriage' has simply shown that there can be no such things.
The desperate attempts, and failure, by civil servants to find a meaning within a same-sex relationship of consummation and adultery merely demonstrate that same-sex relationships do not fit within the institution of marriage. It is akin to trying to shoehorn a foot into a glove: it won't fit and it will break the glove.
Marriage matters. If we get it wrong, it is the most vulnerable in society, children, who suffer. Marriage is not for changing. Marriage is to be honoured. We are Conservatives. We have served the Party for many years, faithfully knocking on doors, delivering leaflets, raising funds, and voting for those who share our views.
We are loyal to our leaders. But, above all, we are loyal to the values of true Conservatism: the marriage-based family at the heart of society; respect for the institutions of family, church and government; continuity with the past.
There is a way forward. We invite our leaders to return to core Conservative values. Stop trying to impose legislation for which there is no mandate. Return to the Conservative path and uphold traditional marriage. This would honour faithful Conservative supporters and the values we all hold dear, and is the path to success at the next General Election.
Mary Douglas is a Conservative Councillor for Salisbury St Francis and Stratford and is a member of Conservative Grassroots. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of ITV News.