Another Mail headline to savour… Lynne ‘slaps down’ Tory minister for opposing Coalition support for equal marriage

At this rate the Daily Mail will soon become Lib Dems’ favourite reading… A few days after its front page proclaiming David Cameron’s lament ‘I’d govern like a true Tory if it wasn’t for the Lib Dems’, the paper reports:

Tory Minister is slapped down by Lib Dems after criticising gay marriage

Two Ministers in the Coalition clashed last night over David Cameron’s plan to allow gay marriages.
Tim Loughton, Tory Minister for Children and Families, came under fire from Liberal Democrat partners after he said he was totally opposed to same-sex marriage and that the Prime Minister would do better to focus on getting Britain out of recession.

Lib Dem Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone immediately slapped him down, saying: ‘Our consultation on equal marriage is about how to do this, not whether. Both Coalition parties have made clear we are committed to legislate by 2015.’

Lynne 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 – 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.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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  • Personally as someone entirely in favour of equal marriage I am glad Tory ministers are breaking ranks. Surely this allows Lib Dem ministers to do likewise when Tory led policies are debated?????

  • Richard Dean 13th May '12 - 2:33pm

    Lynne did well. As a matter of interest, why is the government not also considering allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships? Why not allow all couples access to either or both forms of relationship?

  • I don’t see what all the problem is – the idea is supported by the public and the only opposition is from dinosaurs on the right. Most MPs from all parties would support a bill – include also civil partnerships for same-sex couples as Richard suggests.

    Just get it done – shouldn’t take much parliamentary time at all.

  • This is getting stupid. Surely a registry office ceremony IS a civil partnership.

    What next? Buy a licence at the post office?

  • @Richard Dean
    Same-sex (or “non-hetereosexual” as Mr. Loughton prefers) couples can already enter into civil partnerships.

    If Tim Loughton and Philip Hammond are claiming that a debate on gay marriage is a threat to our economic recovery, as the piece in the Daily Mail implies, they might like to give us their master plan for ending the recession. After all, it’s their opposition to the plans, which will presumably take up ministers’ valuable time.
    I had the pleasure in the late ‘nineties of being one of the “good folk of East Worthing & Shoreham”, as Tim Laughton describes his constituents: in this MP’s first term, at least, he never replied to a single piece of correspondence from any one I knew who wrote to him. Today’s statement that, as a minister, “until now I have not received a single letter from a constituent pressing me to support gay marriage” is therefore hardly surprising for someone presumably overburdened by office.

  • Richard Dean 13th May '12 - 5:32pm

    @Sean. Here is what it says on page 3 of the consultation document published by the Home Office and signed by Theresa May and Lynne Featherstone:

    3 … A civil partnership can only be between a same-sex couple i.e. either a man and a man or a woman and a woman and can only be conducted through a civil ceremony.

    5..The Government is committed to taking forward equal civil marriage and wants to consult widely on how best this can be done. The consultation therefore, does not look at reforms to civil partnerships, for example opening up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples

    website … (click on the first PDF link after “Respond online”

  • @Richard
    Take a look at your original comment and you’ll see that what you wrote is somewhat at odds with your subsequent quote from the consultation document. (p.3/1.3). Cheers.

  • Old Codger Chris 13th May '12 - 6:58pm

    If marriage is an option why would anyone settle for civil partnership?

    As regards religious ceremonies, surely it should be left to the religions / denominations in question to make their own decisions?

    Have I misunderstood something?

  • Richard Dean 13th May '12 - 7:02pm

    @Sean. So it is! That’s what happens when you get old old old like me, The wrong words come out! Thanks for the correction. Apolgies for any offence or confusion.

  • Richard Dean 13th May '12 - 7:06pm

    @Old Codger Chris. Freedom of choice. People are varied. If there is no difference between the two, why the pressure for change? If there is a difference, there may be people who don’t want the extras that come with one rather than the other.

  • Featherstone is right, but it would not be unreasonable to ask David Cameron, a man who appears sincere in his support of gay marriage, to ask his minister to apologise, afterall marriage is within the remit of Loughton, he’s not mouthing off about something he has no control over.

  • John Carlisle 14th May '12 - 8:53am

    Talk about fiddling while Rome burns!

  • Having spent a lot of time and personal money in being a campaigner and candidate for our Party I shall be enormously proud of our Parliamentary Team when they get this one sorted, and again when they sort out Lords reform. Both of these are matters that the general public think of as obvious things to do and have majority support for, it is only the dinosaurs who are going to take up parliamentary time talking up their sleeves.
    Have confidence, and get on with it.!

  • Martin Pierce 14th May '12 - 11:06am

    Great to see Lynne working hard for gay marriage but doesnt she need to stop ‘slapping down’ – I’m sure it’s not very liberal 😉

  • richard heathcote 14th May '12 - 12:29pm

    just a reply to peter who seems to think that the general public think of this as obvious and have majority support for. It isn’t that big an issue for the vast majority of people to be quite honest i don’t think people care about lords or gay marriage, they are more concerned that the nhs works without people being treated in corridors etc or that they have a chance of remaining in employment this year or that the government this one or the last for that matter aren’t in the pocket of big companies such as news international and the murdochs. When the likes of george osbourne are hosting pyjama parties in his official residence i think these are the issues that are important. one thing i don’t understand is what is wrong with civil partnerships do people really need to get married? i was under the assumption that same sex civil partnerships offered people protection similar to a hetro sexual couple who married.

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