Liberal Democrat hero of everything to do with equalities, Lynne Featherstone, has used her blog to take a coach and horses through the arguments that various church leaders have been using this Christmas to attack the Coalition’s plans to introduce equal marriage.
Sometimes MPs’ and Government Ministers’ blogs can become quite bland. This is not the case with Ms Featherstone’s. It’s good that she is quite comfortable with the idea of talking directly. It’s important that someone does. Willie Rennie did exactly the same up here in Scotland where the Catholic Church in particular (although not exclusively) used all the same arguments – and a few which were even more inaccurate and offensive. It’s so important that the churches are challenged when they say things that simply do not stack up.
The most favoured argument of the Churches is that they will be forced to conduct same sex marriage ceremonies, something still being used even when it has been completely discredited. Lynne called this shameful:
The Government’s intention to make it possible for those religions that wish to conduct such services to have the freedom to so do - and the Government is bending over backwards (some would say too far) to ensure any fears of religions being forced to conduct such marriages are unwarranted.
She then tackled the idea that there is no mandate for equal marriage:
It is even more shameful when that argument is lost to simply shift to the next argument as being the most important – that there is no mandate (The Rt Rev Mark Davies’ Christmas message). Good grief! Not only did all three leaders at the time of the election and since make clear that they all supported equal marriage; not only is it in the Conservative Equality commitment document; not only is it Liberal Democrat Party policy; not only do all polls show the majority in favour of equal marriage; not only did the largest response to a consultation by government in all history also show a majority in favour – but since when did any government do only that which was in a manifesto? A manifesto is a prospectus of what a government will do – not a prospectus of all it will do. The Coalition agreement is a compromise of the two manifestos. That does not preclude – and never has – the bringing forward of further proposals which are then democratically decided by a vote in the Houses of Parliament.
The photo illustrating this article comes from May when Ben & Jerry’s sent a Lynne Honeycomb branded ice cream tub to her office (sadly without ice cream) to show their support for equal marriage.
* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings