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Exclusive: Nick Clegg signals a free vote for Lib Dem MPs on same-sex marriage

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  1. :/ I’m glad that whether or not we’re all equal is to be decided by vote…

    1. de Villiers 12 Dec 2012, 8:25am

      It is the right decision. If the vote wins on a free vote then it will have been won by a contest in which the opponents will have lost. It will be seen as a genuinely cross-party measure.

      By contrast, look at the Human Rights Act that has been perceived as being passed by only one party and has never gained popular acceptance. If equal marriage passes on a free vote then it can genuinely be said that free democracy has won and has passed the measure and that those opposed to it were democratically defeated.

  2. No, no, no! A free vote is dangerous. We should not let MPs decide how to vote on civil rights! Instead, this vote should be whipped to high heaven and the parties should force their members to vote for it. If not, there is a very real danger this legislation could die a horrible death in the Commons because of ‘moral’ opposition. This is truly the wrong decision to make.

    1. The party that causes it to fail via free vote will lose a tremendous amount of public support, the pressure’s still on. Libs won’t go against it as being progressive is the only thing they have left, Cameron won’t let his re-invention of the tories to be squashed and Labour are basically f-cked anyway if the Scots get independence. Everyone needs this to go through. Plus the commons aren’t stupid enough to think that dissenting opinions won’t be severely punished when it comes to budget time.

    2. de Villiers 12 Dec 2012, 8:24am

      It is the right decision. If the vote wins on a free vote then it will have been won by a contest in which the opponents will have lost. It will be seen as a genuinely cross-party measure.

      By contrast, look at the Human Rights Act that has been perceived as being passed by only one party and has never gained popular acceptance. If equal marriage passes on a free vote then it can genuinely be said that free democracy has won and has passed the measure and that those opposed to it were democratically defeated.

      1. de Villiers 12 Dec 2012, 8:26am

        I don’t know why this has posted twice under different messages.

  3. Robert in S. Kensington 11 Dec 2012, 8:42pm

    A conscience vote to me means those who will vote NO, as evidenced by yesterday’s outburst by Labour MP Austin Mitchell. He said he might othewise rebel if a free vote weren’t granted. So what did he mean? That he would vote YES? I doubt it. I strongly disagree with Clegg in his interpretation of a conscience vote. It gives religious bigots a free pass to vote NO and get them off the hook without any censure by their respective parties if it were to fail.

    Now I see no point bringing this to a vote in a free vote in the Spring if the numbers aren’t definitely there and assured to be there when the time comes. I only hope it passes with a respectable majority to make it harder for the Lords to block.

    I bet you anything the C4M hate group are going to bombard the Lords with vile, idle threats if they vote to uphold it. We should embark on a campaign to counter them in the upper chamber, not sit idly by while the bigots get the upper hand. Complacency is our enemies’ weapon.

    1. The house of Lords won’t dare block it with the idea of reform gaining popularity. If they stand in the way of parliament and the public they’re just adding support to bring the hammer down harder. I wouldn’t worry too much about them.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 11 Dec 2012, 10:59pm

        Gedio, thank you. You’ve appeased the stomach churning for now. I would hope that Lords reform starts to gain traction as the equal marriage debate continues, giving them fair warning what the consequences for them could entail if they ever conceived of blocking equal marriage. I’m sure C4M will embark on a campaign to foment fear among them.

  4. Oh great, so not one of the 3 main parties will stand up and say that equality is a point of principle for them. I’m seriously reconsidering who I vote for :(

  5. Urgh, coward, I can’t believe this

  6. That There Other David 11 Dec 2012, 8:49pm

    That’s nice. Two betrayals in the same day.

    And people wonder why LGBT people feel discriminated against.

    This would not happen if the debate were about inter-racial marriage.

  7. GulliverUK 11 Dec 2012, 8:55pm

    Most LibDem MPs are in favour – so not a problem. This is, afterall, both LibDem policy, AND the proposals are modelled along their 2010 LibDem Conference debate, in which they set out equal marriage, including the right to marry in church for those churches wanting to offer this.

    Whilst we don’t want every Tom, Dick and Harry to decide on Civil or Human rights, we do have to allow elected politicians — however thick and stupid and bigoted and homophobic some are — to vote on legislation. Better than allowing Henry VIII to dictate law without a parliament.

    It will go through both houses, and it will become law. Bigotry has lost — yeah !! :)

    1. You’re missing the point, Gulliver. Now not one of the 3 main parties are showing that equality is a point of principle for them by whipping the vote. Stabbed in the back again!

      1. GulliverUK 11 Dec 2012, 9:41pm

        If they don’t pass it, I won’t be voting for ANY of them, simples.

        It’s disappointing that on something so fundamental and crucial to the well-being of so many, is thought of as something we can just casually leave up to individual opinions, especially when quite a few seem to not have the first clue about the true history of the Bible, and these pathetic Christian-In-Name-Only MPs as so oblivious to the fact their whole faith is a complete croc (see Bart Erhman on Youtube for why), still we have to hope they can actually see that this is not only fair, a common-sense, popular with the public (many of whom have gay friends, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandchildren), but that it is inevitable, next year, or after 2015.

        One thing you know for sure, from years of polling and changing attitudes, and how you are treated in society, that one day bigots will afraid to even reveal it to the world, even the MPs will be quaking in their boots. Things are moving forward..

        1. I agree with you there :)

  8. Oh yeah we’d hate for the bigots to feel forced to support our human rights

    Done with all 3 parties. If they’re not whipping this, what will they whip? what’s more important than our human rights?

    1. GulliverUK 11 Dec 2012, 9:46pm

      The Greens are very strict about this, even expelled a Councillor who didn’t support the party line. The Greens have also supported equal marriage for decades. Labour only jumped on the bandwagon after it started moving, Tories are using it to detoxify their party image — got to say, for every piece of bile they wipe away, one of their backbenchers adds another, and the LibDems have always been quite radical in this area.

      I’m ruthless in how I vote – although I do care about lots of other issues – I vote for a party which will give ME, and my fellow QUEERS, enough rights to keep on going, having hope that one day we will be treated with the same respect that every other person gets. When I can feel and say I’m not a second-class citizen I will have arrived.

  9. Rat.

  10. Is other equality-based legislation subject to a free vote?

    1. GulliverUK 11 Dec 2012, 9:50pm

      Obviously some things really are very important, and some not. For example, student fees clearly deserve whipping, even if it was against the conscience and pledges made by their MPs previously.

      Honestly, the whole thing is surely something out of Animal Farm !

  11. How very liberal of him to allow second class citizens. Remember this you first and second class people! The law should be applied equally to all members of society. Maybe some day he will introduce third class citizens.

  12. Craig Nelson 11 Dec 2012, 10:06pm

    Free vote may mean that the Bill gets easier passage in the Lords

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 11 Dec 2012, 11:00pm

      Craig, I hope that is the outcome.

  13. At the next elections my vote will go to Greens. A proper protest vote party unlike racist ukip

  14. I;m voting Green too. I’ve voted Lib Dem for 40 years- and I feel betrayed.

  15. So, no party thinks this is important enough to whip their MPs or MSPs? On a day when gay people should feel elated, it’s very disappointing to say the least.

  16. Pathetic!

    Is that why the 16 lib dem MPs on the C4EM support list have been so reluctant to give their support to this…..can these 16 lib dems please now stop sitting on the fence and show their true colours or are they still too cowardly to do this as well?


  17. I remember when Baroness O’Caithian raised that prayer to stop religious CPs in the HoL she kept saying why has labour and lib dem put whips on for the potential vote for that day.

    My question to Clegg and Milliband is that marriage is far more important to us than religious CPs yet you both whiped one and now you refuse to whip the vote for marriage WHY, do you think we gave two hoots about religious CPs and not marriage?

    1. Didn’t the Tories whip their MPs to vote for Section 28 ?

      I generally feel every single MP should vote according to their own feelings on all matters, but with the proviso that they explain to the whole electorate the rational, in full, for their decision. That way we can know them intimately and understand them, and rather than the election crap which is stuffed through the door when they want you to vote for them, we will know, genuinely, whether we feel we can agree and trust them.

      I very much doubt that all Tories would be able to come up with truthful, compelling and valid reasons for the way they vote. If someone says they are voting according to their understanding of the Bible, then I want to know what passages, which version of the Bible, which edition, which paragraphs, and what they think those passages actually mean, and how it is they relate to today.

  18. hasnt the census shown that just 0.2% of the population are in civil partnerships, and the most of these are to be found in the affluent London boroughs
    there is no great demand for this weddings nonsense, just very rich gays getting what they want.equality for the boring middle classes, no thanks

    1. Came under Maine 12 Dec 2012, 12:46am

      Oh! Roders you really are a plonker.

    2. Why exactly would the very rich be doing anything for the ‘boring middle classes’?

    3. the rich gays As you call them, can afford to get a CP and a marriage – for me I wouldn’t have a CP as it don’t want to validate the discrimination.
      However when marriage becomes law I will be asking my long term partner to marry me.
      I live in Manchester and am no way near rich, and I think a lot of people are just waiting until they can get married.

  19. I wonder if Nick Clegg would care to comment on the disgusting remarks by Austin Mitchell

    “Gay marriage is neither urgent nor important.It’s also a moral issue therefore a free vote on which basis it won’t pass”

    Note: he went from a 10,000 majority to 750 in 5 years in a safe seat, abused expenses, and barely ever speaks in the house, Is he really fit to be a LibDem MP? I thought they had higher standards than this.

    1. He’s a Labour MP I think

      1. BTW He once changed his name to Austin Haddock. I’m not kidding.

      2. GulliverUK 12 Dec 2012, 1:13am

        O M God !!!!! Your right. He’s a Labour MP.
        That makes it ever worse, to me anyway. Although, I still think Nick Clegg should comment on it, as well as Ed Milliband. :D

        I’ve no idea why I thought he was a LibDem — perhaps because he has always seemed reasonable and socially liberal.

        Thanks for correcting me – I prefer to be corrected than people keep silent on my mistakes. Good spot.

  20. I am not worried that Nick has removed the whip – the Lib Dems will follow Party Policy and vote for this.
    They may not get in trouble with the westminster party, but they will get hammered by the rest of the party if they do not.
    This is such an emotive subject and I think the gov will do a good job appeasing the critics in the Bill that it will pass no problem.

  21. The result of a free vote has more moral force than a whipped vote, and this should help get through the bigots in the Lords. Besides, if there are any Libdem or Labour MPs who are prepared to vote against equal marriage, I’d prefer to know who they are. There seems little doubt that this will pass into law, especially given the result of the government consultation.

  22. Nick Clegg is a contemptible coward for this step.

    So the Lib Dems (along with Labour and the Tories) do not believe that the LGBT community deserve fundamental, non-negotiable civil rights .
    Who from Pink News interviewed Nick Clegg.

    Was it Ben Cohen from Out4Marriage?(also coincidentally the owner of Pink News?)

    What was Clegg’s response to the question that if LGBT civil rights are a matter of ‘conscience’ (while the heterosexual civil right to marriage is non-negotiable) that the LGBT population’s rights are dependent on popular will.

    What was Clegg’s response to the question as to why LGBT civil marriage rights is the 1st time in British history that a minority’s rights have been subject to a public consultation.

    I presume these questions were asked – if not then Pink News really ought to explain why.

    they are basic questions not referenced in this article.

  23. There was no need for him to even think about a whipped vote for his party anyway. If you look back on Lib Dem voting in the past on LGBT issues they almost all vote positively.

    The way the bill has been written and structured means no one could have a valid reason to vote against it (unless they are homophobic of course!)

    1. Actually the bill could have been written to exclude all reference to religious cults seeing as civil marriage has nothing to do with them, and that they have ALWAYS had the right to exclude anyone they like from getting married in their buildings.

      Nick Clegg is pandering to religious bigots.

      What is he going to do to get rid of those unelected cult of England bishops from the unelected House of ‘Lords’?

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