Liz Barker is up for a Pink News award for Parliamentary speech of the year – vote today!

In June, we brought you Liz Barker’s moving speech on the Same Sex Marriage Bill. Liz started by talking about her own relationship which is as long as mine, yet she hasn’t been able to get married to her partner in the same way as I did to mine 25 years ago. Her speech very carefully and without rancour demolished the usual arguments against. She said:

Some noble Lords say that allowing gay people to get married is unfair as it leaves other sorts of relationships, such as those of siblings, without the same legal rights as those who choose a marital status.

If enabling gay marriage will be unfair to a relationship, for example between two sisters, then existing marriage laws are equally wrong and unfair. Opponents of gay marriage never make that argument.

But, my Lords, relationships which adults enter into voluntarily are wholly distinct from relationships determined by consanguinity. If family members could become civil partners, it would be easy for a bullying parent or sibling to place members of their family into a partnership, or prevent them forming a partnership of their choice, simply in order to protect property. Nobody should want to legislate for that.

A great deal has been made of the issue of a conscience clause for registrars and other public servants. My Lords, I grew up in a time and a place when discrimination in public services on the basis of a person’s religion was not uncommon. It caused resentment and divided communities.

The idea that individual public servants should decide according to their personal beliefs who does and does not receive a public service is quite wrong. Taxes are levied on a non-discriminatory basis – and services should be provided on a non-discriminatory basis.

Liz’s speech has been rewarded with a nomination for Parliamentary Speech of the Year by Pink News. And, the good news is, the public get to vote. She’s up against some really good speeches. In particular, I found David Lammy’s very passionate, but I’m voting for Liz. I am a bit surprised that Julian Huppert didn’t get a nod for his eloquent description of the problems faced by transgender people.

You can cast your vote here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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5 Comments

  • Matthew Huntbach 2nd Oct '13 - 10:44am


    Her speech very carefully and without rancour demolished the usual arguments against.

    No it doesn’t. It shows the usual misunderstanding and misrepresentation of those arguments.

  • nuclear cockroach 2nd Oct '13 - 11:11am

    @Matthew Huntbach

    The argument at its core concerns who may the define the meaning of the word marriage. A minority insist that the authority resides in a religious tradition, whilst a majority insist that the authority resides in the mores and norms of civil society.

    I don’t even know why the subject is being raised again – the battle has already been won and lost.

  • Matthew Huntbach 2nd Oct '13 - 3:50pm

    nuclear cockroach

    I don’t even know why the subject is being raised again – the battle has already been won and lost.

    Yes, I agree. It wasn’t me that raised it.

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