Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone is to leave her post as the government’s equalities minister. It has been reported that she will move to a new role at the Department for International Development, while the Home Office will loose responsibility for the equalities agenda in government.
It follows David Cameron’s first reshuffle as prime minister since the coalition was formed in May 2010.
Downing Street has told PinkNews.co.uk that the Equalities Office will now move from being within the Home Office to the Department for Culture Media and Sport.
Jeremy Hunt will no longer head the department, after becoming health secretary; instead the responsibility falls to the Tory MP Maria Miller.
Conservative MP for Maidstone and the Weald, Helen Grant, who is one of the few black and female Tory members, has been announced as the new equalities minister – she will work underneath the new culture secretary.
Mrs Grant was elected at the 2010 general election, replacing the constituency’s previous incumbent, Ann Widdecombe, who is infamous for some of her extreme anti-gay views.
Ms Featherstone, who has been the constituency member for Hornsey and Wood Green in north east London since 2005, has chiefly been responsible for overseeing the coalition’s pledge to introduce equal marriage for same-sex couples by 2015.
Earlier this year, she launched the government’s consultation on the measure and was the first politician to take part in the Out4Marriage campaign.
Although several Westminster commentators, such as the Daily Mail journalist Quentin Letts, have often mocked Ms Featherstone for not being a political heavy weight at the despatch box – she has generally enjoyed cross-party approval from all of the main LGBT political groups.
Writing for Pinknews.co.uk in June of this year, Mrs Featherstone said: “Marriage is one of the most important institutions we have and a powerful symbol of a society where people care about each other.
In a show of affection for Ms Featherstone’s support for equal marriage, US ice giant Ben and Jerry’s renamed one of its ice creams “Lynne Honeycomb”, and sent a custom-made tub to her office in May.