LibLink: Lynne Featherstone – ‘Church stuck in dark ages’

In an interview in yesterday’s Sunday Times (£), Lynne Featherstone said plans for same-sex marriages are a ‘gentle measure’ but she will not bear intolerance.

Pink News reports the interview under the heading “UK Equality Minister: Church’s opposition to same sex marriage is ‘Dark Age’ homophobia”:

Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat minister for equality has said that the language the Church of England and the Catholic Church has used is homophobic and that the views that the leaders are expressing belong in the Dark Ages.

Mrs Featherstone told the Sunday Times: “This is about love and commitment and things that are good for society and families; it is a matter of celebrating love and commitment.” She added :“I have heard homophobic language used in connection with this very loving and progressive step.” She said the language use “belongs in the Dark Ages”.

“This is a live-and-let-live policy,” Mrs Featherstone told the newspaper . “We have no wish to cross over into territory that is not ours, no desire to stop those who believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

“They [the opponents] do not have to agree with this. But we will have to agree to disagree because for those who want to express their love in a civil marriage, then I think the state is here to facilitate that and to encourage it and rejoice in it.”

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • David Pollard 12th Mar '12 - 9:52pm

    According to MP Chris Bryant, for a marriage to be legal it has to be consumated. Will the legislation define what consumation means in the context of same sex marriage and would it have to be different for two men and for two women? As marriage and civil partnerships are the same in law, this argument is about one word. Perhaps for equality, all couples should be allowed civil partnerships and if some people want to get ‘married’ in church then let them. Its just not possible to have ‘equality’ and at the same time allow some religions to conduct only one kind of marriage.

  • I just don’t get why this is such a big issue. Isn’t it the case that the Catholic church doesn’t allow divorcees to marry in church (and CoE as well as wasn’t that why Charles & Camilla couldn’t remarry in church). Yet divorcees are allowed civil marriages and can marry in religious services of other faiths.

    The position seems exactly comparable. A marriage is recognised by the state but not by the church.

  • I agree with Hywel (catchy – might get a t-shirt printed…)

  • Trying to characterise all opponents as living in the Dark Ages is illiberal and, actually, totally irrelevant to the actual points Lynne makes. Whether because we believe in playing the ball not the (wo)man as believers in liberal democracy, or whether out of our own self-interest to realise that plenty of people vote Lib Dem, and are even members, who might not share our enthusiasm for this, we might want to tone down the unnecessary rhetoric and insults of opponents to gay marriage. (And yes, of course I think that cuts both ways).

  • Malcolm Todd 13th Mar '12 - 3:29pm

    “for those who want to express their love in a civil marriage, then I think the state is here to facilitate that and to encourage it and rejoice in it.”

    Hm. I don’t think the state’s really hear to rejoice in anything, is it? I feel myself coming over all libertarian at the thought…

  • Quite agree Ben, I don’t agree with the Archbishops, but they are using the ECHR for their argument. In Schalk and Kopf v. Austria an Artilcle 12 case, rule maggiage is between a man and awoman and there is no right to same sex marriage.

  • philip wren 14th Mar '12 - 9:29am

    Charles and Camilla wanted to be married in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. For that to happen the chapel would have had to seek registration for a marriage to be performed within its walls, something that it does not have at the moment.

    Getting registered would not have been a problem, but it would have meant that many people in Windsor would have gained a legal right to be married there as well and that would have presented the chapel all sorts of problems.

    I am not arguing about whether or not it should be registered, I am just clearing up a misunderstanding about why C&C only had the blessing and not the actual marriage there.

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