Same sex Marriage: another Liberal Democrat victory

The House of Commons has passed the Marriage (Same sex couples) Bill at Third Reading stage with a whopping majority of 205.

Next stop for this measure is the House of Lords after the recess on 3 June.

There will certainly be challenges to it there but the momentum from the last two days of debate and the fact that it was passed by such a large majority bodes well.

We can be sure that without the Liberal Democrats, the measure would not have made it even on to the Commons agenda, given the opposition from within Conservative ranks.

The co-operation across the House by those in all parties who want to see this pass restored my faith in genuine cross party working on legislation. It was allvery grown up. I just wish we saw more of it. The Labour Party could have decided to be silly but worked to sort the civil partnerships issue to their credit.

I have lingering concerns that Maria Miller & Helen Grant made more of a meal of that and the issue of humanist weddings than was strictly necessary. However, this is a time to celebrate. Work on these issues will continue.

Tonight is a night for high fiving Nick Clegg. He was the leader who was not afraid to proudly back same sex marriage. Then Lynne Featherstone set the process in motion as a minister. And Stephen Williams, Greg Mulholland & Julian Huppert have been particularly marvellous in the debates he last two days, trying to secure humanist ceremonies and sort out the anomalies that cause so much heartbreak when one party to a marriage changes gender.

Now, what of those of our MPs who voted in a way that those of us who support equal marriage disagree with? Well, some of us may well be annoyed with them, and have told them so. We’ll get through it, though. Especially as none of them expressed themselves in anything other than a genuine & respectful manner. Some people have said that they won’t help them win re-election. that would be counter productive. Refusing to campaign for them risks them being replaced by right wing Tories with views like those of Gerald “aggressive homosexuals” Howarth or Dominic “tiddlywinks” Grieve.

So let’s celebrate,thank those who have made this happen and then put our energies in to making sure this Bill goes all the way to Royal Assent.

We can all then look forward to the first marriages being conducted.

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

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45 Comments

  • Haven’t seen a list of how the lib dem MPs voted yet and how many of them chose to be absent again.

    And you praise Mulholland in your piece but did he actually vote for SSM. He didn’t in the 2nd reading and his amendment in the report stage was to abolish marriages completely rather than allow SSMs.

  • Richard Church 21st May '13 - 9:35pm

    Great news. It is disappointing though that the humanist weddings amendment had to be withdrawn at the last minute due to a legal opinion from the attorney general. There were weeks to sort this out, and all the objections to the amendment were answered between the committee stage and the third reading. It looks like this ruling was only used when the amendment looked like it would be carried. Perhaps the Lords can sort it out.

  • Clearly individual MPs have to account for themselves but is it appropriate for the Deputy Leader and Party President of the Liberal Democrats, Messers Hughes and Farron,to have abstained? This was after all party policy…

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 21st May '13 - 10:17pm

    I agree, Ed. I had feared they would vote against, though. I feel that they need to account for what they did.

  • Actually, they need to be held to account for what they did, else the party becomes meaningless. I’d add the one time deputy leader and ‘senior’ MP Beith to the list.

  • Tony Greaves 21st May '13 - 11:27pm

    I think it would help if there was less dissection of the actions of individual LD MPs and more understanding. Some of you may feel that this issue is the ultimate test of true Liberalism but many others will disagree with that. A witch-hunt against people who voted according to their consciences on a free vote will help no-one and will not help the passage of this Bill. Getting angry may make yuo feel good (or bad, I don’t know) but it’s not helpful. They were free votes and each MP will account to their conscience and to their constituency.

    The thing now is to navigate the Bill through the Lords where it will receive more detailed scrutiny even than it has had in the Commons. If as expected (but unusually in the Lords) there is a vote on the principle of the Bill at Second Reading I will vote for the Bill – and subsequently. But there will be large numbers of amendments of all kinds and some will be put to the vote. It will not be helpful if LD peers are subject to detailed scrutiny and hounding on these: that is to say, ranting at some of our number will not help the cause.

    There is no doubt that within Parliament as in the country as a whole, the division of opinions on this Bill are heavily age-weighted. And the Lords are at least a generation older than the Commons. For many peers, including more than a few Liberal Democrats, the prominence of same-sex marriage as an issue (and indeed as a liltmus test of Líberalism for many) is bewildering. There is no point ranting at people for this – it’s an issue which goes against one of the fundaments of the society they grew up in, and which seems to have been bounced upon them astonishingly quickly.

    If you start shouting at such people and denouncing them as illiberal or stupid or bigoted you will tend to lose support, not least among the waverers who will otherwise accept the view of the party or come to terms intellectually with something that instinctively seems wrong.

    I am trying to be helpful. No doubt some of you might want to rant at me for writing this. Don’t waste your time. Instead concentrate on the outcome you want from all this – the passage of this Bill.

    Tony Greaves

  • Paul In Twickenham 21st May '13 - 11:32pm

    Equal marriage isn’t quite the challenge that it once was. Here’s a quote from the wikipedia entry on same-sex marriage:

    As of May 2013, thirteen countries (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden), and several sub-national jurisdictions (parts of Mexico and the United States), allow same-sex couples to marry. Uruguay and New Zealand have both enacted laws to legalize same-sex marriage which will come into force in August 2013. Bills allowing legal recognition of same-sex marriage have been proposed, are pending, or have passed at least one legislative house in Andorra, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Nepal, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom,

    I don’t quote this to diminish the achievement – particular congratulations to Lynne Featherstone. But clearly the tide has shifted irrevocably all over the world and I feel sure that those who stand against this simple equality measure are on the wrong side of history.

    I had the great pleasure to be at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö last week. Yes, I was one of people standing in front of the stage waving a flag while Petra Mede told us we “just haven’t met the right girl yet”. Malmö is on the southern tip of Sweden, just across the Øresund Bridge from Denmark, a few hour’s drive from Norway. All countries with gay marriage. All doing just fine.

    And in the arena on Saturday night, filled with happy flag-waving Europeans, gay and straight together, united by a common passion (for music of dubious merit!) and a desire to engage with other cultures, I thought “not many ukippers here tonight, then”.

  • Can anyone tell me who the 4 were and which of outs abstained.

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd May '13 - 5:21am

    It’s just a shame we couldn’t get this through without showing tolerance for religious objections.

    Tolerance should be a Lib Dem value, as much as equality.

    Proportion should also be a Lib Dem value. People objecting to conduct civil partnerships on religious grounds cannot be compared to doctors refusing treatment etc.

  • @Eddie Tolerance for discrimination and bigotry (however packaged up) is an interesting concept; not one I would buy into. Quite obviously it would put you on a slippery slope to all sorts of evil, most of which parts of the world have seen in less enlightened times.

  • @ Eddie. No, but it can be compared to refusing to marry an interacial couple. Race and sexuality are not a choice, to allow a public servant to discriminate on such grounds is not a precedent we should be setting.

  • I don’t see how this is a Liberal Democrat victory.

    David Cameron bravely pushed for this bill despite the opposition of a large part of his party.

    Ed Miliband offered his support to government to ensure it got past this opposition.

    Lib Dem votes weren’t needed under this arithmetic.

    Proportionally, More Lib Dem MPs opposed gay marriage than did Labour MPs.

    It was a victory for all progressives in parliament, not Lib Dems. Indeed, Lib Dems, on this issue, are less progressive than Labour…

  • Richard Harris 22nd May '13 - 8:01am

    I’d have preferred the headline to read victory for cross party consensus. Claiming it as a lib dem victory is just not in the spirit of how the bill was passed.

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd May '13 - 8:40am

    Ian, I am glad you think tolerating discrimination is an interesting concept, even if you don’t buy into it. I mention proportionality because obviously it wouldn’t be OK for a surgeon to refuse to operate on a gay person, but this is about a vow, and one that was originally religious.

    Carl N, yes it could be compared with refusing interracial marriages, and if someone’s heartfelt religion said that was wrong I would tolerate that too – I wouldn’t agree with it, but I wouldn’t hurl abuse at the person. I would, however, disagree strongly to refusing food at a restaurant.

    I’ve always believed in gay marriage, I just think the debate has got out of proportion. Clearly people disagree on how serious refusing gay marriage is, and I think that is the origin of the heated debates. And that is fine, because often it is better to get feelings out in the open than suppress them.

    In summary, I want to send a message about proportionality, because I think it helps people from extrapolating things and hitting the roof. I also went through a period in life once of being pretty much 100% honest at all times, and it nearly wrecked my life. So it was an important lesson for me in the dangers of having absolute principles.

  • “It’s just a shame we couldn’t get this through without showing tolerance for religious objections.”

    That was because people (deliberately?) confused the state of marriage with the third-party agencies that are either licensed to conduct marriage ceremonies or who’s marriage ceremonies are recognised in law. The only agency that had to be open (by law) to the registration of all forms of marriage was the Registry Office.

    However, now that Civil Partnership has lost the ‘gay marriage’ label, it can be made more socially meaningful, likewise attention can be given to the ‘care’ relationship.

  • Ed – I can see why you are angry. But pushing the party policy angle is a bad one. What about Clegg and Cable when they voted for trebling fees? Should they face sanction? Actually should Davey, Featherstone and all the government MP’s? Should virtually all MP’s face sanction on welfare votes (which again, I think was different to party policy) or what about secret courts? I think everyone bar Huppert and Farron voted for secret courts!!! They were the only two who did not.

    This is a very slippery slope…

  • “What about Clegg and Cable when they voted for trebling fees? Should they face sanction? Actually should Davey, Featherstone and all the government MP’s? Should virtually all MP’s face sanction on welfare votes (which again, I think was different to party policy) or what about secret courts? I think everyone bar Huppert and Farron voted for secret courts!!! They were the only two who did not. “

    You seem to imply all that was obviously acceptable. On the contrary, it has a lot to do with the party currently being at 10% in the opinion polls.

  • David Evans 22nd May '13 - 9:59am

    I think at this moment of near triumph, as liberals, we all need to consider why it is that some zealots want to disown people who have supported this measure for years along the way, but are now considered unworthy because they don’t agree 100% on everything. It is sadly true that in the UK many people do seem to want to put up barriers around themselves against those who they dislike (often only on a few points) than to open up and build bridges to those who agree with them on the vast majority of things.

  • Richard Wingfield 22nd May '13 - 10:37am

    The passage of the Bill was certainly down to a cross-party effort with individual MPs from all three main parties (plus Caroline Lucas) working extremely hard to make sure the Bill would get through the Commons. However, the fact that the Bill was introduced at all is absolutely a Lib Dem victory. Lynne Featherstone’s email at the end of 2012 (you can read it here: http://godandpoliticsuk.org/2012/12/12/lynne-featherstone-proudly-takes-credit-for-railroading-gay-marriage-legislation/) makes it clear that pushing for same sex marriage was her idea and, whilst it was strongly supported by Theresa May and David Cameron, the Lib Dems were the catalyst for the Bill. A Conservative government would not have introduced it, and I suspect a Labour one would not have either (Gordon Brown resisted same sex marriage whilst PM). In that sense, I think you can say that same sex marriage counts as a Lib Dem victory.

    Tony, I found your comment extremely interesting. As one of the “younger generation”, I do struggle sometimes to understand how a person can oppose same-sex marriage. Just as I would assume that anyone who opposed inter-racial marriage must be racially intolerant, so I assume that a person who opposes LGB people from getting married must be, at some level, homophobic. But you’re right to say that the issue is not so black and white for everyone. I agree that ranting and raving will not help; the greatest tools are logic and reason and these should be used to try and persuade others, rather than labelling them bigots and intolerant if they do not. However, age alone should not be a justification for opposing same-sex marriage. Many people of the “older generation” strongly support same-sex marriage and see the obvious discrimination in the current law. So I agree, let’s fight this battle positively, but let’s not use a person’s age as a carte blanche for their views.

  • “There is no point ranting at people for this – it’s an issue which goes against one of the fundaments of the society they grew up in, and which seems to have been bounced upon them astonishingly quickly.”

    But hasn’t it been interesting to see just how difficult it has been for opponents of same-sex marriage to come up with any rational arguments against it?

    It really has come down in the end to a mixture of (1) innate conservatism, (2) prejudice against homosexuals and (3) religious beliefs – and I still cannot for the life of me understand how people think it can be right to regulate civil marriage for society at large according to their own particular religious beliefs.

    Don’t we have a right to expect something better than conservatism and prejudice from peers sitting as Liberal Democrats, whatever their age?

  • Liberal Neil 22nd May '13 - 11:05am

    “If you start shouting at such people and denouncing them as illiberal or stupid or bigoted you will tend to lose support, not least among the waverers who will otherwise accept the view of the party or come to terms intellectually with something that instinctively seems wrong.”

    I understand where you are coming from Tony, but I (genuinely) wonder how you reacted to those who opposed the Race Relations Acts of 1965, 1968 and 1976 on similar grounds?

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd May '13 - 11:20am

    The problem boils down to people selecting “liberal” values and discarding all others. This kind of thinking leads to ignorance on issues such as crime, defence, immigration, tradition, tolerance and respect.

    I don’t think it is ethical to select certain values and thus create and live by an ideology.

    I have to say as well, fantastic post by Tony Greaves.

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd May '13 - 11:27am

    Or even not ignorance, perhaps lack of concern.

  • Helen Tedcastle 22nd May '13 - 11:31am

    I am thankful that there are still people in this Party like Tony Greaves who to me represents the sort of Liberalism that attracted me into the Party in the first place.

    As someone who is the same age as David Cameron and therefore cannot yet be patronised by some on this thread for being ‘old’ and of a generation who ‘doesn’t get it’ (isn’t this line of argument ageist?) – I am opposed to the redefinition of marriage because it seeks to take away that which is already there and replace it with a watered down definition.

    The way this Bill has been handled has been appalling and does not actually do this cause any good – the fact that it was foisted on us from outside – not in the coalition agreement (although this doesn’t stop other measures either it seems) and not in the manifestos – so much for an issue which some have described as akin to civil rights for black people in the USA (hyperbole and an over-reaction to say the least).

    Therefore, I don’t regard this as adding something but taking away from one group to give to another.

    Judging by the strongly intolerant reaction of some in LDV against those of religious faith (as well as the strongly ageist intolerance), it is questionable whether these people are any more deeply liberal than others – it suggests not.

    @ Richard Wingfield: The argument you make equating inter-racial marriage and gay marriage is not a good parallel, because the argument is about the redefinition of marriage not sexual orientation as such – civil rights are in law now, civil partnerships are in the law now.

    The question is whether we take away the meaning of marriage and redefine it so that other groups can join in – the problem is that this action automatically excludes other groups.

    It is actually quite offensive to me that some equate this issue with racism – when I think of all the anti-racist protests and actions I have been on as a Lib Dem and also anti-section 28 marches in the 1980s – intemperate language is very damaging and risks driving good liberals with a Christian faith, out of the party.

  • Matthew Huntbach 22nd May '13 - 12:08pm

    Helen Tedcastle

    I am thankful that there are still people in this Party like Tony Greaves who to me represents the sort of Liberalism that attracted me into the Party in the first place.

    Indeed. What we have seen here is a process whereby anyone who had concerns about this legislation has been intimidated into silence. I regret that those Liberal Democrat MPs who did not support it wholeheartedly were put in a position where they felt unable to voice whatever concerns they might have had about it. I do think that anyone who goes against majority opinion in the party should feel that they are free to say why rather than feel that to open their mouths is to invite political damnation – ostracism from the majority, calls for them not to be supported in continuing their political career. This is NOT who a liberal party should work.

    Careful discussion of this issue was lost because the only people who have felt able to come out against vocally are those to the right of the Conservative Party. Arguments others might have made have not been heard. One of the arguments, for example, which I think would have been common amongst gay people had this policy been proposed some years back, is that to say that gay people will only be accepted as truly equal is they force their relationships into the heterosexual model of marriage is itself homophobic.

  • “What we have seen here is a process whereby anyone who had concerns about this legislation has been intimidated into silence.”

    Actually, I think people have used claims of ‘intimidation’ and the like as a fig leaf to conceal the weakness of their own arguments.

    I’m afraid you made it rather obvious in your own case when you announced you were ‘coming out’ against same-sex marriage not as a result of weighing the pros and cons, but because you considered some of those arguing in favour had shown insufficient respect for the opposing view.

  • Helen

    I’m afraid your comment about “watering down” the definition of marriage speaks volumes.

    The only way that could be true would be if same-sex relationships were somehow inferior to or weaker than opposite-sex relationships. Such a comment really can’t make sense unless something like that is in your mind.

  • Mark Yeates 22nd May '13 - 1:18pm

    Religion should never be used as a barrier to human rights and equality. Full stop!

  • Malcolm Todd 22nd May '13 - 1:36pm

    How on earth Matthew Huntbach can claim, in comment after comment on this site, to have been ‘silenced’ is beyond me.
    Opposition to same-sex marriage has been loudly voiced; it has lost. It has not lost because of intimidation, abuse or prejudice against your religion. It has lost because most of us just weren’t convinced by the antis’ arguments. That’s life in a democracy. Claiming that your defeat in a democracy is due to the unfair tactics of the majority is not unusual, but it’s neither edifying nor convincing.

    If you want to continue the debate, then explain your opposition. Looking at the most recent posts from Matthew and Helen, it seems that Helen thinks that same-sex couples getting married ‘takes away something’ from others. From whom, please, precisely? I’ve been married for a quarter of a century and I don’t see how any single thing is taken away from me by others being able to marry who previously couldn’t. Please don’t just reiterate that something has been ‘changed’ or ‘taken away’ from your own marriage; explain what you mean.

    Matthew, meanwhile, offers us the prospect of “arguments others might have made [that] have not been heard” — as someone once said, “Democracy belongs to those who turn up.” You can’t complain about losing the argument if you haven’t even made it. The rather desperate suggestion that “to say that gay people will only be accepted as truly equal is they force their relationships into the heterosexual model of marriage is itself homophobic” is obviously flawed: just as churches are not being forced into recognising same-sex marriages, gay men and women are not being forced to get married. The difference between “allowed to” and “forced to” should be really easy for any liberal to understand.

    Now: I hope you don’t think these arguments were abusive or intolerant. Tetchy, perhaps… Would anyone like to respond — preferably without digression on the alleged intolerance of the other side?

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd May '13 - 2:00pm

    Malcolm, I know you didn’t address me but I will respond because I am close to leaving the party because of this and many other issues such as the justice and security bill, the EU, the communiations data bill and other issues where anyone who doesn’t agree with the majority, or wants to consider aspects of the bill, gets attacked by the liberal protection racket.

    The problem is not losing the argument, it is getting attacked by the majority. People keep using the B word, the one that ends in T, but I can’t type it because whenever I use it it gets censored but whenever someone uses it against religious people it is allowed.

  • “People keep using the B word, the one that ends in T, but I can’t type it because whenever I use it it gets censored but whenever someone uses it against religious people it is allowed.”

    Can you actually point to an example of a specific person being called a bigot over this issue, anywhere on this site? I’d be surprised, and I’d be even more surprised if there was one and the moderators didn’t remove it when it was pointed out to them.

    I think there has been a tremendous amount of misrepresentation of the supporters of same-sex marriage by its opponents. They would have done far better to try to come up with a persuasive argument against same-sex marriage (or any kind of rational argument at all), rather than resorting to very dubious ad hominem tactics.

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd May '13 - 8:29pm

    Chris, there have been loads of examples, even on this comment section where the word is used. Just because they don’t put the word “you” in front of it, doesn’t mean it isn’t clear what they are saying.

  • Eddie

    The reason I asked whether you could give an example of a specific person being called a bigot is that Matthew claimed people expressing concerns about the proposals had been intimidated into silence, and then Malcolm suggested that it was more of a problem of losing the argument, and then you responded to him by saying that “The problem is not losing the argument, it is getting attacked by the majority. People keep using the B word …”

    In the context it sounded as though you meant that specific people had been intimidated by being called bigots. I don’t think that has actually happened in this forum, which is why I wanted to clarify the point.

  • Helen Tedcastle 22nd May '13 - 10:29pm

    Matthew Huntbach
    ” One of the arguments, for example, which I think would have been common amongst gay people had this policy been proposed some years back, is that to say that gay people will only be accepted as truly equal is they force their relationships into the heterosexual model of marriage is itself homophobic.”

    Yes I have heard this argument before. It is surprising to me that in a party which advocates non-enslavement by conformity in its preamble, that some people on LDV are hysterically in favour of marriage for gay people – when there already exists equal civil rights and civil partnerships enshrined in the law. It seems that this isn’t enough as the perceived ‘status’ of marriage is what is sought – yet marriage advocated by those who believe in male-female union is mocked daily.

    Eddie Sammon

    My main objection has been the near-hysterical posts from writers on LDV, the veiled threats that those who vote against the Bill are against the tide of history, going against conference, should go against their beliefs and simply abstain, are homophobes, the likes of which ‘won’t be forgiven or forgotten.’ Anyone would think that Ms Featherstone et al were akin to Rosa Parks and Dr. King and their struggle against racism – seeing as civil rights already exist, this borders on the almost laughable – if it wasn’t so serious and downright misleading.

    Finally, on religious belief. Those who are Christians and serve the party in parliament live their lives as and abide by their consciences as Christians and Liberals – it is part of their identity and it is the basis of their work. Their Christianity in other words, cannot be separated from their political beliefs (in most not all cases).

    There is an alarming tendency amongst some to try to parcel out Christianity or any religious identity from politics, as if a Christian is able to leave it at home.

    I fear that some find it difficult to discern between a deeply thoughtful, rounded and mature Christian (and we have a group of such people in parliament) and a fundamentalist or even a lukewarm, pic ‘n’ mix Christian.

    As I would expect a humanist to be a humanist in parliament, I would hope that Christians of mature faith (Sarah Teather, Alan Beith, Tim Farron for example), can still be themselves in the Commons – that is my expectation as a member of this diverse party, no matter how many individuals on LDV disapprove.

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd May '13 - 11:14pm

    Very well put Helen.

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd May '13 - 10:52am

    Malcolm Todd

    How on earth Matthew Huntbach can claim, in comment after comment on this site, to have been ‘silenced’ is beyond me.

    I have decided to “come out” and put the other side. In doing so, I realise that if I had any career ambitions in the Liberal Democrats, I have most likely caused them to be severely damaged. Since this is not an issue I have particularly strong view about, it would obviously have been MUCH easier just to remain silent. I am sure many other who don’t entirely agree with the majority line on this issue have just decided to stay silent.

  • “It seems that this isn’t enough as the perceived ‘status’ of marriage is what is sought …”

    Of course. Has the penny only just dropped? Equal status for same-sex relationships is what’s being sought.

    And is it any wonder, when the opponents of same-sex marriage complain that allowing gay couples to marry would “water down” the institution, or that heterosexual marriages would be diminished if they were put on the same level as gay relationships? Can you be surprised that people are offended by statements like those?

  • Richard Wingfield 23rd May '13 - 2:38pm

    @ Helen Tedcastle

    “My main objection has been the near-hysterical posts from writers on LDV, the veiled threats that those who vote against the Bill are against the tide of history, going against conference, should go against their beliefs and simply abstain, are homophobes, the likes of which ‘won’t be forgiven or forgotten.'”

    Even those who opppose same sex marriage must surely accept that the tide of history is against them. In 2000, no countries in the world recognised same sex marriage. In just over a decade, around 15 countries (not to mention a dozen or so states in the US) have introduced same sex marriage. It is inevitably going to be adopted in other countries, and very rapidly I expect. The parallels between this particular social change and others (such as abolition of slavery, equal rights for women, expanding the right to vote) are crystal clear. Eventually – and it may take a while – most of the world will have same sex marriage, just as most have abolished the death penalty, treat women equally under the law, have universal suffrage etc.

    Whether you view the campaign for same sex marriage as equivalent to other social reform campaigns or not, I have absolutely no doubt that those who oppose same sex marriage today will be regarded in the future with the same pity, contempt or disbelief that we now regard those who supported slavery, or opposed votes for women, or who supported anti-miscegenation and racial segregation laws. There is no “threat” at all in saying that! Nobody has suggested that those who oppose same sex marriage should in any way be punished! What we are saying is that you should try and imagine the world in a hundred years when same sex marriage has been around for generations and is a part of every day life with no-one blinking an eyelid. Imagine the teacher telling his class that back in 2013 there were people who said that gay and lesbian people shouldn’t be allowed to get married. Do you think those children will regard those opponents from history with pride, or respect, or admiration? Absolutely not! They will wonder how anyone could have been so prejudiced, intolerant, and narrow-minded. This isn’t a threat; it’s a warning not to make the same mistakes as others in the past who found themselves on the wrong side of history and who have been judged for it in the future.

  • Helen Tedcastle 23rd May '13 - 6:35pm

    @ Chris:” Equal status for same-sex relationships is what’s being sought.” Status is accorded to marriage as it currently stand because of the vital safeguard it gives to the children of a male-female union – as the bedrock of society. That gives it the high regard.

    Status is not the same as rights – those who advocate the redefinition argue that this is about rights – it’s not is it because civil rights already exist..
    The redefinition, presumably written by Lynne Featherstone, waters down the definition from one of safeguarding of children to a personal commitment – this will have a greater effect in the long run on heterosexual marriage – it will have diminished status not because gay couples are ‘married’ but because the definition of marriage as an exclusive union for the protection of the family has been altered fundamentally.

    @ Richard Wingfield: “I have absolutely no doubt that those who oppose same sex marriage today will be regarded in the future with the same pity, contempt or disbelief that we now regard those who supported slavery, or opposed votes for women, or who supported anti-miscegenation and racial segregation laws”

    I appreciate that you believe this with all sincerity but this really is not a Rosa Parks moment, because blacks in America had no civil rights in the 1960s before the bus boycotts and civil actions – gay people have their civil rights and right to civil unions. Where are the riots and mass demonstrations? There are none. It’s a ridiculous line of argument, especially as the very people you seem to think are homophobic, racist, sexist etc… have spent decades fighting these things – and yet find the redefinition of marriage, a bridge too far.

    “This isn’t a threat; it’s a warning “: Please get a grip.

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd May '13 - 7:03pm

    Richard, being on the right side of history argument is not valid because it clouds your mind to favouring whatever is new. Going by that logic perhaps you would have been in favour of communism before it became unpopular.

    Also, remember that the only difference between civil partnerships and marriage is the name. So there is no great oppression going on here.

  • Helen

    So we’re back to marriage being all about children again? But you don’t mind about all those childless married heterosexual couples “watering down” that essential aspect of marriage. The vital thing is that it’s not watered down by allowing homosexual/lesbian couples to marry. That’s the real criterion, isn’t it? Hetero versus homo. Nothing to do with children at all.

  • Richard Wingfield 24th May '13 - 12:23am

    @ Eddie Salmon: Same sex marriage is not a passing fad nor an ideology, It is much more akin to social issues like granting the vote to women or the decriminalisation of homosexuality. At one time, virtually every country in the world criminalized homosexuality and prohibited women from voting. Eventually, one by one, states progressed. Now, almost every country permits women to vote, and over half have decriminalised homosexuality. The progress is only one-way. Similarly states that abolished slavery never re-introduced it. States that abolished the death penalty have not – as far as I’m aware – ever re-introduced it. I am sure that states which legalise same-sex marriage will never, in the future prohibit it. The world is moving in one direction on this issue, not back and forth.

    @ Helen Tedcastle: I have never said that there was a great oppression here. It is absolutely true that civil partnerships are almost identical to marriage and that, ultimately, the issue is whether to recognise in law same-sex relationships and opposite-sex relationships with the same nomenclature or not. But there do not need to be riots, demonstrations and violence before an issue can be a civil rights issue. There were no riots or demonstrations about the anti-miscegenation laws in the US; the issue was dealt with simply by way of court proceedings, but we still view the issue as one of civil rights. That is the most obvious parallel to me: the denial of the ability to marry the person you love based on something as arbitrary and irrelevant as race, gender or sexual orientation. But I do have one serious question which I posed before. Imagine the UK in one or two hundred years’ time when same sex marriage has been legal for that long. What do you think the opinion of people will be about those who opposed allowing same-sex marriages? I have absolutely no doubt that it will be exactly the same as we think today about people who opposed inter-racial couples from being allowed to marry i.e. not very favourable.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th May '13 - 12:49am

    No Richard, you are wrong. People will look back in 200 years time and understand that people opposed it on a religious basis, not because they were nasty people.

    Stop trying to use bullying by comparing this to abolishing slavery, universal suffrage and other out of proportion examples.

    We will not agree with you on this so leave us alone. We are not saying your views are evil so stop saying other people’s are. You have made your point.

    Hell, I’m even in favour of gay marriage, just please stop the bullying and intimidation by talking about what people will think of Christians in the future.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th May '13 - 7:51am

    Sorry about being harsh last night Richard, I mean to disagree respectfully, emotions just run high from time to time.

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