Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

my blog
Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

Gay marriage stays!

In the aftermath of a tough set of election results for both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats – I couldn’t help but notice a few naysayers popping up in the media and uttering dire warnings about a government that needs to concentrate on core issues rather than same sex civil marriage.

For goodness sake – it’s not either / or.

The economy is clearly the No 1 priority – but the Coalition can multi-task!

There will be no u-turn on equal marriage – we are committed as a government to legislate by 2015

 

 

Sun 6 May 2012
Tweet thisShare on FacebookAdd to DeliciousDigg itLibDig this

Comments

  1. Aiden says:

    Ms Featherstone, the ECHR would disagree with you, as Gay ‘marriage’ is not a human right, as this was ruled by them in March 2010.

  2. Adam Long says:

    @Aiden

    Stop misrepresenting the ECHR position. They are not in ‘disagreement’ with Lynne’s position and are not opposed to equal marriage. Rather they have noted that a European wide consensus does not currently exist on the issue. They most certainly did not rule that member states would be wrong to proceed with equal marriage, as you seem to be claiming. The UK has become a world leader in advancing equality for LGBT people in recent years and it is only right therefore that it ends one of the last remaining legal discriminations in place against the gay community at home.

    Stay focussed Lynne and do not allow yourself to be thrown off course by the usual reactionary elements who have always opposed progressive reforms.

  3. vinny says:

    Many MPs are not supporting gay marriages becuase they say that Churches will be sued if they don’t do gay marriage.

    eg David Davies MP refuses to accept the word of Teresa May that this will not be the case.

    Why are these Tory MPs being irrational and refusing to accept the word of the Government?

    http://www.david-daviesmp.co.uk/newsshow.aspx?id=32&ref=476

    “However, the Christian community has looked at recent court cases such as the Christian bed and breakfast owners who were taken to court after refusing a double room to a gay couple. They are not confident the law would back them up.

    I have asked the Home Secretary if she would be prepared to commit herself to changing discrimination legislation if a case were brought to court, but in her reply she was not willing to make that commitment.

  4. Tom says:

    Lynne’s undemocratic commitment to ‘equal’ marriage is one of the biggest turn-offs to parliament I’ve experienced. Whereas ‘Lord’s Reform’ was clearly part of the big four steps to a fairer Britain in the Lib Dem manifesto, this ‘equal’ marriage thing was never voted for by anybody in the UK.

    The farcical political correctness is of the same breed that attempted to tell us that there is no difference between men and women. Equal rights is not enough for the gay lobby. Civil Partnerships don’t cut it. No, they must have the same terminology. We must all be told to define marriage by the narrow criterion of a committed relationship between two people. We cannot think of marriage as applying to man and woman.

    This is not politics, it is social engineering.

    Don’t mistake this drivel for tolerance. Tolerance is where you allow people to have their own lifestyle and choices – exactly what Civil Partnerships have provided. To force people to redefine the language and the culture is intolerant brutality and it stinks.

  5. Gary Powell says:

    Tom:

    How does the following sound to you?

    “The farcical political correctness is of the same breed that attempted to tell us that there is no difference between black people and white people. Equal rights is not enough for the black lobby. Being allowed to marry a member of their own race doesn’t cut it. No, they must have the right to marry white people. We must all be told to define marriage by the narrow criterion of a committed relationship between two people, regardless of whether or not they are of the same race. We cannot think of marriage as applying to people where both partners are of the same race.

    This is not politics, it is social engineering.

    Don’t mistake this drivel for tolerance. Tolerance is where you allow people to have their own lifestyle and choices – exactly what allowing blacks to marry other blacks has provided. To force people to redefine the language and the culture is intolerant brutality and it stinks.”

    Above is the position of the Dutch Reformed Church in Apartheid South Africa, which opposed the legalisation of interracial marriage tooth and nail.

    Food for thought.

  6. Tom says:

    Gary Powell. You imply that you think men and women are the same. I don’t. I’m not sure I care what the Dutch Reformed Church thought.

  7. Tom says:

    Gary. Come to think of it, how does the following sound to you?

    “The farcical political correctness is of the same breed that attempted to tell us that there is no difference between passenger cars and motorcycles. Equal rights is not enough for the motorcyclist lobby. Being allowed to drive on roads doesn’t cut it. No, they must have the right to be called passenger cars. We must all be told to define passenger cars by the narrow criterion of being a motorised vehicle, regardless of whether or not they have two, three or four wheels. We cannot think of passenger cars as applying to vehicles with only four wheels.

    This is not politics, it is social engineering.

    Don’t mistake this drivel for tolerance. Tolerance is where you allow people to have their own lifestyle and choices – exactly what allowing motorcyclists to drive on roads has provided. To force people to redefine the language and the culture is intolerant brutality and it stinks.”

    Of course this is silly isn’t it Gary? Food for thought perhaps???

  8. Gary Powell says:

    Tom

    You are right: I do think that men and women are the same – where their respective claims to justice, equality and human rights are concerned. That is the sameness that matters. They may look different, but that is not relevant to their rights.

    Similarly, I think that white people and black people are the same – where their respective claims to justice, equality and human rights are concerned. That is the sameness that matters. They may look different, but that is not relevant to their rights.

    I am disappointed when you say you are not sure you care what the Dutch Reformed Church thought. What they thought was deeply misguided, yet it seemed to be held with sincere conviction. There were appeals to scripture, to tradition and to “normality” to support their racist views. The parallels with the current campaign against equal marriage are striking. I was able to create an Apartheid-style objection to interracial marriage simply by changing the gender or sexual orientation references in your post to racial ones.

  9. Tom says:

    Gary

    Well isn’t that interesting! Because I think that gay people and heterosexual people ‘are the same – where their respective claims to justice, equality and human rights are concerned. That is the sameness that matters. They may (whatever) different, but that is not relevant to their rights.’

    And I also think that civil partnerships and marriage ‘are the same – where their respective claims to justice, equality and human rights are concerned. That is the sameness that matters. They may (have different labels), but that is not relevant to their rights.’

    So what?

    ‘What they thought was deeply misguided, yet it seemed to be held with sincere conviction.’ That could be me couldn’t it? Or it could be you? But you’re telling me I’m like those nasty racists…

    …But tell me Gary, where have I been homophobic? Do you interpret my comments as anti-gay? My original post was entirely based around the lack of democracy in this violation of the society of which I’m a part, and about the insipid politically-correct fixation with labelling and thinking that Lynne’s ideology drives her towards. It is so anti-liberal and anti-democratic I can’t think who she thinks she is!

  10. Gary Powell says:

    Tom:

    Your analogy would only stand if passenger cars were in relevant respects like white people/ men/ heterosexual people respectively, and motorcycles were in relevant respects like black people/ women/ LGBT people respectively.

    This is not the case. White people/ men/ heterosexual people/ heterosexual marriages are like passenger cars of a certain colour, and black people/ women/ LGBT people/ gay marriages are like passenger cars of a different colour from their counterparts. The latter categories are not different enough in the relevant respects from their counterparts in the former categories to justify their being characterised as anything other than passenger cars.

    The flaw in your argument is based on an assumption of relevant difference where no such relevant difference exists.

    Your analogy also implies your view that heterosexual marriage is the car with four wheels, whereas gay marriage is the car with less than four wheels. That says it all.

    You really should think about the arguments of the Dutch Reformed Church against interracial marriage, you know. Your flawed vehicle analogy could have been used with equally misplaced confidence by any racist Afrikaaner.

  11. Tom says:

    Gary: Your comment about 4 wheels being hetero and 2 homo is just crazy – have you never ridden a motorbike? It is such a lot of fun! So much more fun than a car!!

    So far you’ve accused me of being homophobic and resembling a bunch of nazis. I don’t mind you calling me names, but it doesn’t win arguments.

  12. Gary Powell says:

    Tom

    Far be it from me to call you “homophobic.” I think your arguments are flawed, and they are what I have argued against. I also think your arguments against gay marriage are just as invalid as the arguments against interracial marriage. I believe that your analogy with the motor vehicles, where gay marriages are the ones with fewer wheels than heterosexual marriages, is pretty enlightening. You also let something slip when you referred in your analogy to motorcyles “being allowed to drive on roads”. Do you think that gay people are “being allowed” to have civil partnerships/ marriages? Who are these people with the power who are doing the “allowing”, and deciding what rights LGBT people are granted?

    Could it not be that the people “doing the allowing” are also LGBT people ourselves? And our families and friends, and the heterosexual people who support LGBT equality? And could it be that this very large body of people is also generously represented in the political parties, and in Parliament? LGBT people and our supporters are also people with power to make laws, and to encourage others to make laws. And I believe that we, together with our families, friends and supporters, make up a majority.

  13. Adam Long says:

    David Davies is a right-wing Tory MP who, like many on the anti-gay side, is grasping at straws in order to try to distract away from the one simple, overriding issue involved here – extending equality to same-sex couples, something backed by the majority of the British public.

    The legislation will state that churches or other places of worship will not be required to marry any couple against their will. That point has been made crystal clear. In fact, the coalition has even gone further than that by preventing even those faiths who wish to marry gay couples from doing so, which I strongly disagree with. But it does show up the flawed reasoning and sheer dishonesty being peddled by the anti-gay side when they talk about supposed threats to religious liberty.

    It is also completely wrong of Mr Davies and others to try to claim that the same issues are involved in a church setting its own rules on marriage and a B&B turning a gay couple away. They could not be more different. A B&B is a business (not a religion or even a private club) and is therefore rightly obliged to treat all customers in the same way, regardless of their sexual orientation.

  14. Gary Powell says:

    I have not called you names, Tom. You are resorting to the age-old straw man argument.

    I have pointed out the fallacy of your arguments, and the hidden assumptions informing them. I have demonstrated the similarities between your argument against equal marriage, and the Dutch Reformed Church’s arguments against interracial marriage, to which you replied “I’m not sure I care what the Dutch Reformed Church thought.”

    If you feel insulted by my attacking your arguments and demonstrating similarities between your arguments and people who historically opposed interracial marriage, then I am sorry about your hurt feelings. I do argue in a robust way, but I would much rather change your mind than hurt your feelings for the sake of it. Today’s adversary can be tomorrow’s ally.

  15. Adam Long says:

    President Obama has just announced his support for equal marriage. Excellent news!..And just as in other civil rights campaigns, there will always be the naysayers but we have history and momentum on our side and this will not even be an issue (at least in the West) in a few years time.

  16. [...] Libdems say the issue is under control and Lynne Featherstone will deliver. [...]

  17. Aiden says:

    Gay marriage will not happen, firstly CallMeDave has had the wake up call from his party, who will not support it, the normal voters don’t support it either.

    Marriage is 1 Man and 1 Woman.

    Further, adding to my point about ECHR, my stance is that homosexuals are not the same as heterosexuals, so they cannot have the same legal rights, and should not, two guys, two girls cannot produce children naturally themselves.

    Obama has come out in ‘support’ because he needs the votes, he wont win the election, Mitt Romney will win.

    I would encourage all Christian B & B’s and all other organisations to register themselves as ‘Belief Organisations’ as these are exempt from the Equality Act 2010.

    I have completed the consultation against same sex marriage and have supported and signed The Coalition For Marriage, as has my MP it would appear.

    Lynne Featherstone is bias, as is the so called ‘consultation’ that has been wheeled out. Lynne should go, before she’s pushed. She is not an equal minister.

  18. Charlie Berry says:

    Seems to me that Lynne should be called the ‘Minister for Sameness’.

    This stuff is not all about homophobia but, as some comments above have suggested, is about people wanting something other than equality – they want sameness. Like the point about men and women being different (they are) but as Gary said they should be treated fairly. The wrong thing is to think we are all the same, just because we should all be treated equal. This is awful and has caused a lot of stress in society and marriage.

    But this law would be all about suppressing genuine difference. And, of course, it is thoroughly undemocratic.

  19. George Taylor says:

    Madamme, you are two faced – “… it is the Government’s fundamental job to reflect society…” and “…the Government would not back down on the plans…”
    You are not reflecting the will of the people, you are promoting your own prejudices and ignoring the electorate. Resign

  20. John says:

    Very impressed with the number of MPs that have come out in favour of gay marriage as shown on http://www.c4em.org.uk/support-for-equal-marriage/

    It far outnumbers those who are against it.

    Gay marriage is going to happen with this amount of support. Even the Tories are in favour of it.

    Keep up the good work Lynne.

  21. Gary Powell says:

    Mr Berry

    You make the point that you think LGBT people are aiming for “sameness” rather than for equality. It would be interesting to look closer at this assertion.

    I really don’t think that an average cross-section of gay people is all that different in any intrinsic and significant respect from an average cross-section of heterosexual people. The only intrinsic significant difference is that gay people are predominantly attracted to members of the same sex, and heterosexual people are not: and that is an area where only very few gay people would like to be the same as heterosexual people.

    Heterosexual people go to school, take exams, do or don’t go to university, do or don’t get jobs, strive or don’t strive for promotions, have successful or unsuccessful relationships, do or don’t have/adopt children, look after or neglect their friends and family, are good or bad citizens, pay or avoid/ evade taxes, experience joys, experience traumas, fall ill, exercise or don’t exercise, read books, go on holiday, etc., etc., and eventually die. So do LGBT people.

    LGBT people are pretty much the same as heterosexual people, only we are more sexually and emotionally attracted to people of the same sex. I also can’t see any intrinsic difference in the quality of our relationships. I do think that the socially sanctioned institution of “marriage” provides a very good framework for supporting commitment and monogamy. Many make the point that civil partnerships confer all the advantages of marriage, and that allowing gay people to marry is therefore unnecessary. However, the same kind of thing could have been said about black people who were made to eat in separate restaurants, or use separate toilets, or travel at the back of the bus. They were also able to access the same benefits in these respects as white people, but the point is that they (understandably) felt as though they were kept separate from white people because they were considered to be inferior. The demand for integration was a statement that black people are not inferior, and it needed to be made.

    I can’t help but get the impression when some people claim that gay people have all the rights that would be conferred by “marriage” in the institution of civil partnerships, and that our relationships are intrinsically debarred from the institution of marriage, that it is because our relationships are considered to be intrinsically inferior to heterosexuals’ relationships, and that the objection focuses on protecting the word “marriage” from being associated with people with intrinsically lower-status relationships. Rather like keeping black people out of white restaurants.

    Where ‘sameness’ is concerned, LGBT people are already the same as heterosexuals, apart from in respect of sexual orientation. Why should we not be allowed to marry if we are really not that different at all from the people who *are* allowed to?

    It occurs to me that, before they were permitted to be ordained, women who wanted to become priests could have been accused in the same way of wanting to be the same as men. This was clearly not true. They wanted to be equal to men in respect of the entitlement to become priests. They wanted to be “the same” as “ordained”, not “the same” as “men”.

    Black people who were forced to sit at the back of the bus did not want to be “the same” as white people: they wanted to be “the same” in terms of dignity and recognition of their equal human rights. Black people did not have to put up with being forced to sit at the back of the bus, just because that was the way it had always been, or because they were still able to make their journey regardless. By the same token, gay and lesbian people should not have to sit at the back of the bus with “civil partnerships” because our relationships do not qualify for what is wrongly perceived by some to be the higher status of “marriage”, exclusive to heterosexuals.

  22. Richard says:

    In the face of over 500,000 signatures opposing redefinition of marriage and the disasterous local election results your arrogant assertion that “gay marriage stays” is frankly breathtaking.

  23. Gary Powell says:

    Richard

    The C4M petition is vulnerable to multiple aliases and unauthorised signatures:

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/04/08/analysis-why-the-c4m-petition-is-flawed-and-untruthful/

    As for the “disastrous local election results”: weren’t they the elections where people defected in large numbers from the Conservatives and Lib Dems to the pro-equal marriage Labour Party? Some protest against same-sex marriage.

    Who knows whether there will be any impediments in the Government implementing equal marriage in the next few years? I hope there won’t be: but I am in no doubt that equal marriage is inevitable, even if it were to take another ten or twenty years. There is probably a majority of citizens in favour of it already, and support for it is growing, and is at its strongest among young people, who will of course be the new generation of parents.

    See this link for the latest info re support among MPs for equal marriage. At the time of writing, 3 to 1 in favour:

    http://www.c4em.org.uk/support-for-equal-marriage/

  24. Adam Long says:

    Good point Gary about local election results. The pro-equal marriage Labour Party were the big winners on the night, a party who have actually gone slightly further than the coalition and believe, quite rightly, that those religious faiths that wish to marry same-sex couples should be allowed to do so.

    Isn’t it incredible then that some people are so blinded by their prejudice and hostility to gay people and our right to be treated equally that they will grasp at even the most ludicrous of assumptions to try to prevent the inevitable – and saying that the poor performance of the Tories was linked to support for equal marriage certainly ranks up there when it comes to ludicrous statements..

    In purely numerical terms, let’s just have a look at how the situation currently stands:

    For equal marriage: Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the leadership and majority of the Conservatives.

    Against: right-wing Tory rump, UKIP, BNP

    And most importantly of all, a majority of the British people as shown in successive opinion polls!

    Equal Marriage IS going to happen. For the coalition, it is crucial that they honour their commitment to implement it in this Parliament.

  25. Jamie Neale says:

    Find some of these comments on here interesting.

    I think it is being shelved and not because Tories are inherently against it. But what they’re seeing is a bashing at next election by a public that doesn’t understand we don’t have a deficit because we tax to little we have a deficit because we spend to much. Other countries have sovereign wealth funds which pay for pensions and investment. We have interest payments that pay for other countries investments. Tories want to see some growth measures sent through and focusing on lords reform and gay marriage which they don’t see as reclaiming them votes is just a step too far.

    Personal opinion, religious institutions should not be forced to perform gay marriage, if someone truly believe they themselves will go to hell for performing the ceremony or allowing it. It’s a very cruel torture on them to do it. Otherwise allow heterosexual couples to get civil partnerships(as marriage is seen as a religious institution) and allow homosexuals to get married if they can find the institution they follow to allow it. Then you let the religious folk fight it amongst themselves and do not force anybody to do anything. I disagree with you on a lot of equality things because sometimes you see issues where there are none. But this keep up the good work and fight it through you are the equalities minister it’s down to you!

  26. charlie berry says:

    Gary Powell: I cannot see the correlation between a black man being forced to sit at the back of a bus (clearly unrelated issues) with the redefinition of marriage.

    You might as well argue that all oak should be called teak.

    I can only think that this is because of the sense of moral judgement. But this should be resolved by tolerance, not enforcing sameness – which is itself intolerant.

  27. emma says:

    “The economy is clearly the No 1 priority – but the Coalition can multi-task!”

    The economy is certainly more of a priority for the UK government than the right to be for those UK citizens who still do not have that right.
    It has not gone unnoticed that Argentina, a country who the UK government has often accused (quite rightly) of human rights abuses have passed a law depathologising all gender identities ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/10236962 ) whereas Tory MEPs continue to vote for some gender identites to be considered as (mental) illnesses ( http://michael-cashman.eu/2012/04/camerons-homophobic-tory-meps/ )

  28. Ray Crossman says:

    Emma – are you a lesbian?
    If every you do get your foul ways at the adoption of gay marriage just wait for the backlash.
    Church Vicars prosecuted, parents disgusted at the teaching of queer stuff to their children, Churches under prosecution who fail to let out their premises to queer ceremonies, increase in anal damage to men, more queer rapes, disturbed teenages under pressure to choose the other way, suicides and unhappiness, more promiscuity amongst the queer fraterinty, increase in anal diseases and HIV and AIDS, pressure on the health services, society not knowing God’s way, women being badgered for relationships from other women, incontenance amongst queer men, increase in incontenance pads… and on and on

  29. Tim Holton says:

    Ray Crossman: Ouch! Sorry mate. When you have demonstrated that you know God’s way yourself then maybe you can speak. But your words don’t demonstrate such grace.

  30. Adam says:

    Ray what a delight you are. I am sure your God has a plan for you.

    NB I am a heterosexual male.

  31. emma says:

    Ray,

    I have no claim to be a lesbian.
    Do you have the conviction that you are a man? Why?

    A lack of equal recognition for all gender identities leads to increase in anal damage to men, more rapes, disturbed teenagers under pressure to choose the other way, suicides and unhappiness, increase in anal diseases and HIV and AIDS because of the perception of “sexual minorities”, pressure on the health services, the creation of the idea of “transsexualism”, a lack of respect for the bodily integrity of part of the population … and so on and so on…

    BTW, if God’s way doesn’t respect the right of all of humanity to exist and to have equal gender recognition, I really don’t want anything to do with it. ;)

  32. Tom says:

    Lynne and others are attempting to depict this as a progressive move against the religious, but this article shows how appalling this deeply intolerant gay-marriage movement and its ‘diversity’ protagonists have become:-

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9260335/Storm-as-Law-Society-bans-conference-debating-gay-marriage.html

    Here we have a non-religious organisation of respectable and worthy people who simply want to debate the issues. That’s all. They just want to talk about it – that’s what conferences do.

    But the illiberal, undemocratic shouters have denied even the discussion.

    There were some unwise comments above by a man claiming that to NOT redefine marriage in this new way was akin to forcing black people to sit at the back of buses and be otherwise discriminated against by Nazi-like religious people. The use of such hyperbole betrays the utter poverty of underlying argument.

    To not introduce this change (farcically referred to as ‘lifting a ban’ in the home-office spiel) is to simply continue to recognize that there is a real difference between homosexual relationships and heterosexual marriage. Notice that, in itself, acknowledging difference is not abusive, unequal or a denial of rights. Think about it: to acknowledge difference is not, in itself, unfair. It only becomes unfair when that difference is used to discriminate against people.

    The more I read of this debate which is fuelled massively by loud and influential people, not by the general populace, the more I feel I need to take a stand. NOT because I am anti-homosexual: like many people, I have loved-ones (lesbian) who know they are loved and treated fairly.

    Many people have already written to their MPs and met with them. And many MPs will not support the bill and are dismayed at the way this debate is railroaded by some in politics and the media whilst the majority of concerned people are against it. If you haven’t done so you should send him/her a note using writetothem.com. Even if your MP is Lynne, you should write and say why you are concerned (unless you are Ray Crossman!) I don’t believe Lynne is stupid even though she doesn’t listen to me.

    The underlying problem is that in the past we have been grotesquely intolerant and judgemental of people who live homosexual lifestyles, and this has generated a phenomenal hypersensitivity amongst these people that leads them to want total equivalence – even to the point of terminology. If we end up with gay marriage it will partly be our own fault for our previous intolerance towards gays. But that previous vileness will not make gay marriage a good or wise move in itself.

  33. Lucy says:

    “Many people have already written to their MPs and met with them. And many MPs will not support the bill …..”

    Yeah you are right, many LGBT people , their friends and family and all those for equality have met and written to their MPs and at the moment far more MPs are in favour of the change than against.

    Just look at this website, 98 in favour and 32 against…

    http://www.c4em.org.uk/support-for-equal-marriage/

    There is absolutely no reason not to upgrade CPs to marriages. CPs are marriages in all but name, CP are considered to be marriages, gay couples in CPs are married. It’s nonsense to have a different word for the same thing. The only reason we have CPs is that the government weren’t brave enought to give us absolute equality. You’re just kidding yourself if you think straight married couples are somehow unique and different to gay couples.

  34. Doro says:

    “Tom” – in all your excitment, you don’t explain what you think is wrong with recognising marriage between same sex couples. What’s the problem?? I can’t see it will have no effect on any heterosexual marriage.

  35. Tom says:

    Lucy : If ‘CPs are marriage in all but name’ then what do you mean by ‘upgrade’?

    Doro : But what is ‘right’ about changing definitions when it has not meant that before? We don’t force ‘men’ to be called ‘women’ in order for them to be treated fairly. We can still think of men and women as being different in a generic sense.

  36. Lucy says:

    Tom – you’re getting desperate. You simply don’t have a logical argument why gay couples shouldn’t be allowed to get married. If you understand me when I say we are married then isn’t it logical to call us married. Civil partnership is just meaningless, an English term for a gay marriage. No-where else in the world has a civil partnership like the British one. Each gay partnership in the world is different. Marriages are not. If you accept we are married, then just call us that. Why use the discriminatory term civil partnership.

  37. Tom says:

    Lucy: I do not wish to pass judgement on you or your lifestyle. I don’t know you or your life.

    But you said it yourself that CPs are marriages in all but name. You are the one who insisted that your view is about nothing but terminology, not me.

    Now, if you refer back to my post earlier today you’ll see that people who believe that traditional heterosexual marriage is something to be applauded and supported are not being allowed to discuss it. These people are not religious fanatics. They are not religious at all. But they are being told they cannot discuss their thoughts which, I might add, are driven by their daily experience in family law. If they cannot even discuss these things today, then what will it be like when the gay marriage law is passed?

    If it is a choice between changing the definition of words and allowing thinking, rational people to debate what they think is the best way to live then I know which I would choose. To stop the latter is intolerant.

    You didn’t answer my question about what you meant by ‘upgrade’.

  38. Lucy says:

    Tom – I’ve read the honest version of the article you posted on this website . Perhaps you should enlighten yourself and read the true story.

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/05/12/law-society-bans-anti-equality-conference-organised-by-world-congress-of-families/

    “The article in the Telegraph takes a line distinctly with the organisers of the conference, and describes the Congress itself as “a US-based non-religious group which promotes traditional family values.”

    However, the Congress’s own website suggests this is not the case. It affirms that “the natural human family is established by the Creator and essential to good society.”

    The website further puts homosexuality on par with incest and child abuse: “Sexuality is ordered for the procreation of children and the expression of love between husband and wife in the covenant of marriage. Marriage between a man and a woman forms the sole moral context for natural sexual union. Whether through pornography, promiscuity, incest or homosexuality, deviations from these created sexual norms cannot truly satisfy the human spirit. They lead to obsession, remorse, alienation, and disease. Child molesters harm children and no valid legal, psychological or moral justification can be offered for the odious crime of pedophilia. Culture and society should encourage standards of sexual morality that support and enhance family life.”

  39. Doro says:

    “Tom” – you ask me “what is right” about marriage for lesbian and gay couples?

    The answer is exactly the same as why marriage is good for straight couples. As has been very succinctly put by the Prime Minister.

    Your only objection seems to be a dislike of amending the traditonal definitions. Well, as you admit, over the centuries LGBTI people have been subjec to the most appalling injustices. It is therefore unsurprising that they were left out of the previous definition. It’s long overdue to correct that.

  40. Gary Powell says:

    Tom

    I think that there are some ill-judged comments and stances on both sides of the debate. As difficult as it may be to try to step back from the strong emotion of it all, it is probably helpful to take a more detached perspective and look at the arguments rationally.

    Ultimately, though, this question seems to be one of ethics, and is informed by people’s values. While I personally believe in absolute rather than relativistic morality, I think that values are axiomatic and don’t ultimately lend themselves to rational exegesis and proof.

    Your genuine good will towards LGBT people is evident in sections of your posts. It seems to me as though you, like many people, feel that supporting equal marriage is a step too far. I don’t however believe that a majority of the population is opposed to equal marriage. Even if there were a majority opposed, I can’t imagine that majority opposition would last for many years, especially given the degree of support for gay marriage that seems to be evident among the younger generation.

    I was, I believe, the person to whom you were referring when you said,

    “There were some unwise comments above by a man claiming that to NOT redefine marriage in this new way was akin to forcing black people to sit at the back of buses and be otherwise discriminated against by Nazi-like religious people. The use of such hyperbole betrays the utter poverty of underlying argument.”

    People on both sides of the argument have been guilty of hyperbole. I respectfully suggest though that I am not one of them with my comparison with racial Apartheid and segregation. I am sure that many of the people who supported racial Apartheid and segregation were in many respects very average and decent people who had been culturally (and religiously) conditioned. I didn’t call them “Nazi-like,” as I suspect that not that many of them were. I would also imagine that many who opposed integration subsequently came to terms with, or even supported, integration post hoc. I would imagine that the same will be the case regarding equal marriage.

    Having said that, it needs to be acknowledged that what seem like big changes in social institutions and customs can understandably be a source of anxiety and discomfort for people of a more conservative disposition, who prefer the status quo to remain and for challenges to it not to unsettle their sense of ontological stability and continuity. Hopefully, as was the case when the Anglican Church started to ordain women priests, in most cases, people will come to terms with the change quite quickly, and discover that it is one that does not bring about the outcomes they feared.

  41. Tom says:

    Doro: ‘Well, as you admit, over the centuries LGBTI people have been subjec to the most appalling injustices. It is therefore unsurprising that they were left out of the previous definition. It’s long overdue to correct that.’ This is a very fair point, Doro, as far as it goes. Thanks.

    Gary: Thank you for keeping your head screwed-on. Comment pages are not the easiest places to remain calm and rational (something about not seeing the look in your opponent’s eyes when you pull the trigger – apparently it works for pilots too).

    I’m not sure I want the ‘status quo’ to remain. You should see the letters I write to my MP and MEP about the changes needed in the way Euro registered mining companies treat their developing-world employees. I want change, not status quo.

    I can feel the LGBT bitter and resentful sadness at not being ‘allowed’ to express a passionate love for another human being in terms that are universally meaningful, and I think it is cruel to make a thing as good as love into something dirty, unmentionable or inadequate.

    But, like you, I am convinced that moral good has an objective reality and is not simply an emergent phenomenon of an evolutionary process. I mean, the sense we have of an ultimately right way of being, are not simply subjective, but are ontological; having an existence in their own right.

    Somewhere in this mixed-up life of goodness is ‘love’, and it is surely at or near the pinnacle of true good. But also there is ‘truth’. And I am far from convinced that a group of earnestly truth-seeking people should be inhibited from discussing their views which differ from the majority view at this point in history. Whether they are religious people or not, they are being told that they can’t even discuss the idea that things are different, and that heterosexual marriage is a good (and best) way for humans to form intimate relationships. I know there is an immediate tension between that statement and the paragraph above about gay love. But before this law of Lynne’s is even passed, the playing field is already slewed.

    The answer must be tolerance, true tolerance which allows people to think and discuss different values. The march of political correctness does not suggest we are heading in that direction. I don’t see a government forcing gay marriage on a community as tolerant, but a vote-grabbing response to popular opinion (like Obama).

  42. lucy says:

    It’s not the govt’s job to enfoce the prejudices of a minority against people.

    The law society had a perfect right not to allow this org to lecture on their premises if it was against their diversity policy. I would’nt rent my house to them in the same way.

    No-one is stopping anybody from thinking or talking about what they regard as marriage.

    The govt is simply proposing lifting the discrimination against LGBTI in the civil law legilsation. Religious people can continue to think or talk about marriage in whatever way they want.

  43. [...] put it equally plainly on her blog a week ago: In the aftermath of a tough set of election results for both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats [...]

  44. Gary Powell says:

    Tom

    Thank you for your thoughtful insights. I agree with the point you made about message boards, and am sure the “eyes – trigger” phenomenon you describe has a lot to answer for. It seems to me that one very serious impediment to skilful and constructive human interaction is the tendency for people to demonise the interlocutor who represents an opposing view, or at least to depersonalise him and project onto him all one’s bad experiences relating to the topic under discussion.

    This is how some adherents on both sides of the equal marriage debate (or indeed practically any debate) tend to behave, where people deliberately oversimplify, or simply don’t attempt to understand, the complexity and subtlety of the other person’s arguments, or where people have a knee-jerk reaction against something that is inconsistent with the accepted orthodoxy. I have myself been on the receiving end of irritatingly reactive ad hominem comments and clear misrepresentations of my position from some people in the anti-equal marriage camp, and also from some people in the pro-equal marriage camp who objected to my refusal to buy into a rigid orthodoxy of approach that I find to be too facile. The argument and analysis in this domain are complex, and need patient, careful and calm handling if they are to be done proper justice.

    There is perhaps a great wisdom being missed by the tendency to pigeon-hole, mischaracterise, misrepresent and demonise people who do not share a particular view that is important to oneself. Even from a purely pragmatic perspective, unless they make comments that are so offensive and unconscionable as to render any attempts to change their mind a waste of time and energy, it may be worth bearing in mind that they could even change their mind one day regarding the issue in question. Even if they don’t, the person might be a major ally on other issues important to oneself. In my view, the parable of The Good Samaritan is relevant here, and contains a great deal of relevant wisdom with regard to the human condition.

    Regarding my point referring to the status quo: yes, I think that the aspects of the status quo whose possible change provoke disquiet are different for different people.

    On the issue of freedom of speech, I have the impression that the Daily Telegraph’s description of the World Congress of Families as a non-religious organisation is inaccurate. I do think that the Congress should be able to hold its conference somewhere, but I also think that the Law Society should be able to decide who holds conferences in their premises, and feel entitled to turn down religious or broadly-religious organisations whose values starkly conflict with their own; in the same way, say, that the Catholic Church should be able to turn down an application by an LGBT organisation to hold a conference in their premises. Presumably the Congress will be able to find a religious or non-religious organisation sympathetic or indifferent to its views, or alternatively an organisation that is more concerned about its lettings income than about anything else, to host their conference.

    I am not at all convinced that the Government’s intended implementation of the right to equal marriage is a “vote-grabbing response to popular opinion,” as you suggest. If this really is popular opinion, and majority opinion supports equal marriage, then your description of the Government’s “forcing gay marriage on a community” will not be any more accurate here than if applied to any other legislation that has majority but not universal support. This seems to be the normal democratic process, where there are winners and losers. But even so, I don’t think one can really speak of “forcing gay marriage on a community” in the same way that one can speak of, say, “forcing VAT rises on a community,” as the former isn’t forcing everyone to get married to a member of the same sex, or even to attend LGBT weddings, whereas the latter *is* forcing everyone to pay more taxes. I think that the fact equal marriage is perceived as being likely to have no negative bearing at all on their lives, is why most people are not really bothered one way or the other whether LGBT people are able to marry, and why the strong opposition is, on the whole, coming from religious organisations and individuals, where there is likely to be at the very least a subliminal view that whilst it is proper to be kind and accepting towards gay people, homosexual “acts”, including homosexual relationships and anything that implies their endorsement, are nonetheless sinful or disordered, and therefore worthy of opposition if they are put on an equal footing with heterosexual relationships.

    The irony is that, such is the general dislike of religious judgmentalism, hitherto indifferent people are probably more likely to be stirred into having a strong position on this issue when they know that religious groups are campaigning against it, and the position they adopt is likely to be one that is antithetical to the position for which the religious groups are campaigning.

    It may well be the case that political support for equal marriage is a vote-winner, and it may also be the case that the Government would not have embarked on the road to legalise it if there had been clear majority opposition to the measure, even if just for pragmatic reasons. However, my own impression is that this is a change to which the Prime Minister is sincerely and genuinely committed. The good news for the Government is that what they hope to introduce as a matter of principle probably happens on balance to be a pretty significant vote-winner as well. The bad news for those religious groups campaigning against it, is that their vociferous involvement is likely to further galvanise public support for the very thing they want to prevent.

  45. Aidan says:

    I am in favour of human rights and equality of opportunity.
    We all have a human right to life…even the unborn baby has that right to life.
    if you talk about the right to marry you have to understand what “to marry” means. It means far more than simply ‘living together’. It means far more than a simple ‘contract’. A contract governs the exchange of goods and/or services. But marriage is a Covenant ….which governs the total life commitment of one person to another for the purposes of mutual well being through sexual intercourse and an openness to reproduction. If there is no possibility of natural reproduction (apart from infertility through old age) then there is no marriage. By definition same sex marriage is not possible.
    Equality is also a word that needs to be understood properly. Basic human inequality is inevitable: some are bigger, smaller, brighter, richer, weaker etc.
    Equal rights refers to equal opportunities….but if you are a woman you have no right to father a baby; just as a man has no right to conceive a baby. We are made the way we are for a purpose. The trouble is that many people think they are totally independant of a Creator and want to redesign human nature according to their own whims.

  46. Stroud Green Voter says:

    You have no shame. The equalities minister millionaire who removes the legal duty for the equality body to consider poverty.

    Your hypocrisy is only matched by your venality as a Tory lickspittle. Bring on the next election and the end of your career.

  47. Crouch End Voter says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/15/equality-human-rights-commission-cuts This is what Stroud Green Voter is talking about above.

    I am staggered. Lynne, what have you been offered in exchange for selling out every single one of the principles you appeared to have when we voted for you? Somehow I don’t think you’re going to get it.

  48. Tom says:

    Now that 550000 people have troubled themselves to sign-up for C4M we’ll see how responsive is this coalition government to the forces of democracy.

  49. Gary Powell says:

    Tom

    550,000 is not a majority in a population of 62,000,000. Especially with a petition where it is possible for people to sign multiple times by entering different e-mail addresses.

    The “forces of democracy” seem to be in favour of equal marriage according to the opinion polls. The recent YouGov poll published by Stonewall http://www.stonewall.org.uk/documents/living_together_2012.pdf
    indicates a 71% approval rate among the general population for equal marriage. The Populus poll of 2012 indicates 65% support. The lowest level of support I have seen polled in 2012 was the Office for National Statistics poll that indicated 45% support. Even if the latter poll were the accurate one, that is something rather less than a significant majority against.

    At this point in time, four times as many MPs who have declared voting intentions have said they will vote for equal marriage than have said they will vote against. The majority of Conservative MPs who have declared their intentions have said they will vote for equal marriage, including Eric Pickles and Iain Duncan Smith.

    The tide of democracy seems to be in favour of change.

  50. [...] the Prime Minister gave it his support in his October conference speech, and the government is pressing ahead with plans to legislate for it before the next election, under the leadership of Lib Dem equalities [...]

Website terms of use

Published and promoted by C. Jenkinson on behalf of Haringey Liberal Democrats, both at 62 High Street, N8 7NX and by S. Drage on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at Unit 1, Streatham Business Centre, 1 Empire Mews, SW16 2EH.

Site produced by Puffbox in association with Harrisment.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.