Last night I was sent this email from a friend who is a Liberal Democrat member. It’s from Lynne Featherstone MP, the ex-Equalities Minister who oversaw the same-sex marriage consultation, boasting of her achievements surrounding gay marriage legislation. They said they were disgusted by what they read. Hopefully you’ll see why when you read it:
It’s been an amazing day for equality today as the Coalition Government announced it will introduce legislation to open marriage up to same-sex couples.
I am so proud of our Party because – don’t let anyone fool you – it’s because of Liberal Democrats that this is happening.
It all started two years ago when LGBT+ Lib Dems and Conference broke new ground. In September 2010, Liberal Democrat members voted to support equal marriage and end the separation between same-sex and opposite-sex couples. I took that vote to heart, saw an opportunity, telephoned Nick to say that I was going to go for equal marriage in my role as Equalities Minister at the Home Office. Nick gave me his support and his blessing – and quite frankly – at sticky moments during its passage his full-on powerful interventions when and as needed.
We’re two years on and it has been a hard battle. As Equalities Minister I was in charge of putting together the consultation on equal marriage. I met with LGBT groups, campaigners, lawyers, faith groups and many others. As we all know, marriage is an ancient institution, often tinkered with, but I had no idea how confusing the patchwork of legislation that governs it was. At one point the naysayers were making ominous noises about how it would lead to disestablishment of the Church if I pushed ahead with this!
Now you all know me better than these people did. It just made me more determined to show we could achieve this without the world as we know it ending. When we launched the consultation the Government was deluged by so many anti-equality voices trying to stop me (and recently Jo Swinson who took over from me in the reshuffle) pushing for this in government.
These voices were heard not least on the backbenches of our Coalition partners by those who still get somewhat hot under the collar when you talk about a modern, diverse and open Britain! Still – with Liberal Democrats firmly behind this policy, David Cameron has the votes necessary to defy them.
It became clear during the consultation that many same sex couples wanted to get married and wanted to do so in a full religious ceremony. And there were many religious organisations who wanted the freedom to conduct same-sex marriages. With Nick’s help we delivered this victory for religious freedom, at the same time protecting the rights of those religions who do not want to conduct such services.
It’s been a proud day for me and you should feel proud too. Without us – this would never have happened!
Lynne Featherstone MP
I’ve been talking over the last few days about government ministers taking little notice of those who don’t agree with changing the institution of marriage. Here before us we have proof of the extent to which this happened. The fact that Ms Featherstone is so brazen and open about the way she went about her business is frankly deplorable. Her description of those who have disagreed with her displays a worrying level of intolerance that should never be expected from someone in her position. There have been legitimate concerns aired by Conservative MPs and others and yet she has used them to become even more aggressive in her actions.
She talks of many religious organisations wanting to conduct same-sex weddings, but I’ve only heard of the Quakers, Liberal Jews and some Unitarian Churches being mentioned in the press, which isn’t exactly a huge number. It’s hard to describe what has happened as a ‘victory for religious freedom’.
Lynne Featherstone wants me to be proud of her achievements, but who in their right mind would want to praise a sham consultation run by partisan ministers who laugh at those who might disagree with them. Which bit of this are you most proud of Lynne?