Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

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

Gay Marriage is just live and let live!

To paraphrase – I don’t agree with those who have spoken out against same-sex marriage – but I absolutely defend their right to do so. What I don’t defend and have been quite horrified by are those who have used extreme language or hysteria in pursuit of their argument. Hopefully we won’t hear or see that again as this live and let live policy progresses.

But you don’t have to agree with it to allow those who do want to get married to do so. If two same sex people in a love relationship want to demonstrate their love and commitment to each other in the universal institution of marriage – making  public promises for a lifelong monogamous commitment to each other until death do them part -  then our role as a Government is to facilitate that union.

Ever since I first introduced the idea that the Coalition Government should legislate on same sex marriage – in addition to state conducted marriage – there have also been a number of religious organisations who want to be able to conduct same sex marriages: Quakers, Liberal Jews and some Unitarian Churches for example. I am hopeful that when the Government response to the equal marriage consultation is published later this week that those religions that wish to carry out marriages will be permitted to do so. That is religious freedom. Of course the big fear from those religions who don’t want to carry out such services is that they will be forced to do so. Ironically, if the legislation is permissive on religious freedom to conduct same sex marriages – that will protect absolutely those who do not wish to do so in statute.

Of course I have observed the ranks on the Conservative back benches who are very vocal against same sex marriage. And today in the Sunday Telegraph another Conservative group of senior Conservatives have come out fighting for the proposals. I am pleased to see the progressives in the Conservative Party fighting back. Nick Herbert MP has been a stalwart supporter and ally in helping move this agenda forward all the way through. And I just would have thought that Conservatives would have learned the lessons of their past. Anyway – that is their business.

Same sex marriage is just a live and let live policy. Stonewall put it best:

‘To all those who don’t agree with same sex marriage Stonewall’s strong advice is not to marry someone of the same sex.’

I am also hopeful that one day when this legislation and time has passed – instead of labelling this gay marriage, equal marriage or same sex marriage – it will just be marriage!

 

Sun 9 December 2012
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Comments

  1. Land of the Lake says:

    This is simply NOT a “live and let live..” argument and it is specious to argue that it is.

    This will inevitably lead to people of faith being discriminated against as they are eventually told, probably by the courts, that they cannot opt out of gay marriage.

    Just as the Catholic adoption agencies were. Just as registrars who didn’t want to perform civil partnerships were. Just as people who didn’t want to offer relationship counselling to gays were.

    The point is Ms Featherstone, if you are so in favour of secular laws trumping religious freedoms, then you would be in favour of the German courts who want to ban circumcision for newborns ? Maybe you would like the ban to be extended to Britain as well, no matter what religious people say ?

  2. Mark Pack says:

    Land of the Lake: You talk about religious freedom, but what about religious freedom for Quakers, Liberal Jews and some Unitarian Churches?

    They all want to be able to carry out same-sex marriages in their religious institutions and the law currently bans them. If you’re in favour of religious freedom then it follows that the right thing to do is to remove the ban that currently makes it illegal for Quakers and others to carry out marriages in the way they wish.

  3. vinny says:

    Dear Lynne, I agree with your first statement but the language used by the opposition to this bill is still outrageous and the comments are coming from very senior people. Even today the telegraph reports the following…

    “Bishop launches attack on David Cameron over gay marriage
    A Roman Catholic bishop has delivered an extraordinary attack on David Cameron by accusing him of being “devoid of moral competence” and comparing him to Nero, the brutal Roman emperor who persecuted Christians.”

  4. [...] is that equal marriage isn’t something cooked up by atheists and agnostics. It’s also – as Lynne Featherstone has pointed out – supported officially by Quakers, Liberal Jews and some Unitarian Churches, not to mention [...]

  5. [...] What a year 2012 has been! There are three Lib Dem policies that really stand out for me this year: the Pupil Premium, income tax reductions for low paid and middle income workers and equal marriage. [...]

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