Tag Archives: same sex marriage

Lynne Featherstone interview part 3: Same sex marriage and life as a Minister

In the hours following the icy gales of Storm Doris, I caught up with Lynne at Taunton’s most distinguished hotel, The Castle. This is the final instalment of our chat. You can read the others here.

You were and still are a campaigner against important issues such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child abuse and violence against women. However, perhaps your greatest achievement is being the originator and architect of the equal marriage act, which was passed into law in 2013. No party had equal marriage in their 2010 manifestos nor was it part of the coalition agreement. Why did you take this issue on and why is it important to you?

When we entered into coalition, 20 ministerial posts had to be filled. After two days, I received a call from Nick Clegg offering me the post of Equalities Minister. In fact, I ended up with three-quarters of me as a Home Office minister and one-quarter as Equalities Minister. So I’m a minister in the coalition, we have Liberal Democrats in government, and I’m thinking to myself ‘I’ve got to do something to make sure everyone knows that there are Liberals in this government’. It never crossed my mind that it wasn’t in the manifestos or portfolio because to me it was an obvious piece of equalities work that needed doing. Labour were great with civil partnerships, but I thought they were a kind of apartheid – one rule for gay people and one rule for straight people. My view is that you should have marriage and civil partnerships for both gay and straight, both for both. The state’s job is to facilitate that union, not to judge if one is good or one is bad.

We were all new Liberal Democrat ministers and didn’t have a clue what we were doing, so the Institute for Government put on a morning instruction for newbie Liberal ministers. They invited Michael Heseltine and Andrew Adonis to advise us. Heseltine said ‘you are going to be really busy. You do not understand the tsunami of work that will hit you when you become a minister. You will have debates, orals, speeches, correspondence and endless other things. Your diary will be full from morning to night. If you do not ruthlessly prioritise one or two things you want to get done in your time in the sun, you will not achieve it. You will be a very good minister doing very important things but you won’t have done anything you went into politics for’. Adonis encouraged us to trust our civil servants. He said it wasn’t like The Thick of It or Yes Minister, although, I have to say, I thought it was quite like Yes Minister! He told us  ‘If you don’t direct your civil servants, they will fill your diary from first thing in the morning until midnight, all with very worthy things but you’ll just be executing what they want you to do. If you trust your civil servants, you have to direct them. They will go to the ends of the earth for you’. As I walked back from the Institute for Government to the Home Office, it just crystallised in my brain that I wanted to do same sex marriage because it was a piece of equalities legislation that needed doing. I came back into my office and said to one of my assistant private secretaries ‘I want to do same sex marriage, what do I do?’ That is literally how it started.

If I hadn’t had that morning, we would not have same sex marriage. It’s really strange how things happen.

Can you explain the process? What did you have to do?

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Lynne Featherstone’s “Equal ever after” is out now – how same sex marriage became a reality (with added Lib Dem flouncing)

Lynne Featherstone Equal Ever AfterLast night, at a glitzy party, Lynne Featherstone’s book, Equal ever after was launched. In it she tells the story of  her crusade as Equalities Minister to deliver same sex marriage.

The launch was attended by Nick Clegg, Jo Swinson, Julian Huppert and many, many more. Sadly, I wasn’t there, even though I was in London. I was at a meeting of the Federal Finance and Administration Committee instead.

You have to wonder what position Jo Swinson was in when she took this:

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Nick Clegg replies to Coalition for Marriage with pithy tweet

 

And here’s a reminder of two very happy young men who were definitely not forced to get married…

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Lynne Featherstone wins Stonewall Politician of the Year

Lynne Featherstone MP was named Stonewall’s ‘Politician of the Year’ at their annual awards ceremony yesterday. It was awarded jointly to Lynne and to this guy off Eastenders.

Lynne has been tireless in promoting LGBT+ rights over the last four and a half years and was the architect of the bill legalising same sex marriage.

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A trio of awards ceremonies for Lynne Featherstone

It’s a busy week for Lynne Featherstone. Last Tuesday, she won Pink News’s Ally of the Year award as the Minister responsible for setting the same sex marriage process in motion. She’s responsible for a great deal of happiness. She said of her win:

I’d like to thank Pink News for giving me this award, and everyone who was at the event for the reception they gave me – it’s so heart-warming.

Bringing about this positive social change is one of the greatest achievements of our generation, and I’m so thankful to all the organisations, politicians, civil servants and people who supported the successful campaign for Equal Marriage law from start to finish.

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Lynne Featherstone on shortlist for Stonewall Politician of the Year

Lynne Featherstone at PrideOn 6th November, Stonewall’s annual awards ceremony takes place in London. Many Liberal Democrats have had their issues with Stonewall in the past, but I’d say that they are definitely improving. For example, it’s good to see Stonewall Scotland’s “Some people are Trans, get over it” t-shirts. They may have come late to the equal marriage party, but they got there eventually.  On top of that,  their resources for schools are excellent.  Stonewall Chief Executive, Ruth Hunt, who is doing some great work in making the organisation more inclusive, spoke at our Conference in Glasgow.

Up for Politician of the Year is our own Lynne Featherstone, the woman who set the country firmly on the road to same sex marriage. Alex Neil, the Minister who was responsible for the Scottish bill, is also nominated. As an aside, it was announced yesterday that the first Scottish same sex marriages will take place on Hogmanay. That’s not a huge amount of time to organise a party, but I’m sure some will manage it.

The shortlist in full is:

Lord Cashman
Lynne Featherstone MP
Lord Fowler
Kerry McCarthy MP
Alex Neil MSP

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Baroness Barker: Nicky Morgan’s appointment “disappointing”

Protest against a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriageThe appointment of former treasury minister Nicky Morgan to the post of education secretary and minister for women and equalities has come under fire from Liberal Democrat peer Elizabeth Barker given Morgan’s recent opposition to same sex marriage (though it should be pointed out that the responsibility for the implementation of same sex marriage has been given to skills and enterprise minister Nick Boles).

Pink News has the story:

Speaking to PinkNews, Baroness Barker said: “It is good to see equalities firmly within education,

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