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Comment: I am surprised and disappointed at Sarah Teather for voting against marriage equality

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  1. Nicely done. I too thought her logic was deeply and offensively flawed – there was also a suggestion in her reasoning that gay couples are not, in her mind, “families”.

    1. FABULOUS letter and as a LibDem, an SGI Nichiren Buddhist and as someone whom was completely shocked at her voting against (not all LibDems were shocked . . . some had an inkling) . . . there will be some ramifications I am sure (though don’t know) . . .

  2. Excellent letter – couldn’t have put it better myself

  3. I sincerely doubt that the MP will either reply or take up the offer to visit.

    1. bobbleobble 8 Feb 2013, 11:44am

      She’ll act the coward and hide behind the fact that Natalie isn’t her constituent and therefore Teather isn’t required to respond. I would be astounded if Teather had the moral fortitude to face people criticising her over her illiberal decision to vote against SSM.

      1. I wrote to the MP from my home town who voted against the bill and got the response, what is your address! That is the only thing they are interested in.

        1. But remember that MPs have a duty of care for all UK citizens not just those in the constituency they represent.
          Remind them of that next time they try and wiggle out of a response!

          1. Actually, that’s not correct. There is a protocol that MPs deal only with their own constituents, and indeed that frontbenchers visiting a constituency notify the local MP in advance.

            Of course MPs should bear in mind the national interest alongside that of their own constituents, but that was not the point you were making.

  4. well written Nats

  5. Brilliant letter. Her decision to vote no was astonishing and I certainly won’t feel able to vote for her next time around.

  6. The thing that annoys me about the likes of Sarah Teather is come the next election she’ll no doubt by trying to exploit support among the gay community by playing her ‘Liberal and pro-gay’ card. When it comes down to the crunch she’s anything but. In a way it’s worse than the Tories as at least nobody really voted for them with any real expectation of support for LGBT rights.

    I hope that the list of MPs from so called ‘progressive’ parties who voted against this is archived to be used if they try and come across as ‘gay-friendly liberal’ the next time they want us to vote for them.

    1. Have a look at – the website seems to be having some issues at the moment, but they collect together MPs’ and Peers’ votes on a variety of different policies. For example, Teather’s votes on LGB-related stuff are listed at, and those on trans stuff are at She voted in favour of civil partnerships and the law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, against requiring women undergoing IVF to have a “male role model”, and in favour of the Gender Recognition Bill, which makes her vote on marriage equality all the more surprising to me.

      Actually, the most bizarre part of her voting record is that she is strongly against abortion and embryo research, despite being a pharmacology graduate and having worked for the Royal Society and Macmillan.

      1. She is a Catholic and is voting on a Vatican whip.

      2. Staircase2 9 Feb 2013, 1:37am

        I don’t think it’s surprising for someone to be against abortion or Embryo research. Those things are based on how people view life and it’s inception.

        I am however deeply troubled by her vote against Marriage Equality. Not least because of the fuss she recently kicked up about Governmental policy against poor people and how she regretted not standing up for those people’s rights when in Office.

  7. Teather is such a prig. I remember her reprimand Charles Kennedy for falling off the wagon three days after he had, apparently, promised her he’d give up the drink. “He promised me faithfully, she wailed.”

  8. bobbleobble 8 Feb 2013, 11:04am

    Natalie it’s a beautifully written letter and I hope it does some good. Teather’s justification for voting against was total nonsense and as you have demonstrated brilliantly falls apart under even the briefest amount of scrutiny.

    Sadly I doubt it will do any good. Because she didn’t actually vote against same sex marriage for the reasons she gave in her statement. She did it because she’s a Catholic and the Pope told her to. She took her whip from Rome in this instance which is incredibly sad for a politician who is apparently a liberal.

  9. WOW, has Natalie had a reply yet?

    Of course we still have many Gay & Lesbians who were in straight relationships & who had children before coming out.

    Two of my ex boyfriends come to mind, one had two the other had four children before having a breakdown in their late 20s then leaving their girlfriends/wives & coming out!

  10. I never believed her words, the Lib Dems have a habit of changing their minds & trying to justify it.

    Beautiful letter – I wish Natalie’s family, the very best of everything, and to all my gay brothers & sisters. Despite the hurtful things said in the House of Commons this week, it was wonderful to hear ‘the Ayes have it’ – Gerrrin!

  11. I wrote to her too, slightly less gently…
    Dear Ms Teather,
    I wanted to write and let you know that I feel utterly betrayed by your decision to vote against marriage equality. You have always seemed like a good and fair person and have dealt responsibly with GLBT issues in the past. I read your reasons for voting against equality and I am perplexed.
    You say “I believe that the link between family life and marriage is important.”
    So do I. What about my family? You imply that parents with “sexual difference” are more valid than families with same-sex parents. This is insulting, hurtful and untrue.
    “Those who argue for a change in the law do so by saying that surely marriage is just about love between two people and so is of nobody else’s business.”
    This is also false. Nobody has argued solely for love as the reason. Marriage is about status and acceptance within the community. It is the best way to support love – and families. You obviously…

    1. …..obviously disagree. With your vote you attempt to condemn your Gay brothers and sisters as second class citizens. To further say that allowing two people of the same sex a loving marriage will undermine the institution and unravel society is just Roman Catholic vitriol with no foundation in reality.
      In your patronising letter of excuse you resolutely ignore the fact that many Gay people have happy loving families.
      You end your letter with “Our party members hold strong views, but recognise and cherish the space for difference. I am proud of that.”
      I am glad it is so easy for you to be proud. I hope one day you recognise the deep shame of your actions.

  12. CH Brighton 8 Feb 2013, 11:30am

    Sorry Natalie, while you are absolutely right in what you say. Sarah Teacher’s rationale for her anti-SSM vote is not based on the needs and aspirations of modern families and couples, but on ancient fairy tales.

    1. She was ‘only obeying orders’.

      Even to the extent of trotting out the carbon copy excuses straight out of the RC leaflets.

      1. bobbleobble 8 Feb 2013, 1:46pm

        Yes, John Pugh’s excuses are remarkably similar. Sadly whilst Teather, Birtwistle and even possibly Beith stand good chances of losing their seats in 2015 Labour has no chance in Southport and the Tory brand is so tarnished in Merseyside that it looks like Pugh could hold on though that’s assuming this vote doesn’t wreck his standing among his constituents.

  13. bobbleobble 8 Feb 2013, 11:50am

    Actually one of the things I find most disappointing about three of the Lib Dems who voted against is the cowardly way in which they did it. Teather, Pugh and Beith all kept their decisions close to their chest right up until the last minute, presumably out of fear of their own local constituency parties and constituents. At least Birtwistle had the courage of his convictions.

  14. Beautifully done.

  15. Well said, Natalie. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it…loving, nurturing parents are so much more important for a child whether (the parents) are het’ or same sex. It doesn’t matter as long as that child is happy and loved.
    My best wishes to Natalie and her family.

  16. Really nice letter, very heartfelt I think. Shouldn’t expect a reply from Teather, though. She probably won’t even read it; it’ll be her receptionist or something that’ll send some bog-standard “thank for you comments” note at best.

  17. I wrote to Sarah T in similar terms and for the same reasons but more briefly. I don’t know about any London trend but there are those of us (my partner of 20+ years and I) who are well over 40 who have co-parented children into a well-adjusted adulthood. If that makes me sound somewhat irritated – I am. Otherwise: well done.

    1. Hi Michael, I didn’t mean to suggest that gay people having children is a totally new phenomenon. Sorry if it comes across this way.

      I do think though that the clear evidence is that what’s changed massively in the last ten years are the numbers of people doing it; it’s far far more common than it was ten years ago. What’s facilitated this change in scale is the ease with which it is done and the number of agencies available to actively support same-sex couples to have children, whether through adoption, IVF or surrogacy. Ten years ago, a much higher proportion of pregnancies occurred between people who agreed to co-parent and got pregant in very low-tech ways at home, whereas most female London couples now use anonymous sperm donors reached through fertility clinics.

      But apologies for writing you out of history. On the contrary, I’m sure the current ease that we now enjoy is down to people who demonstrated that it was possible many years earlier.

  18. Robert (Kettering) 8 Feb 2013, 12:24pm

    Well written letter and thanks to Natalie for sharing this with us. Alas, I think Ms Teather’s mind will be closed as she’s totally under the control of the Vatican on this issue – like so many other RC MPs.

    I think she’ll now find it quite difficult to get anywhere within her party or politics as she’s proved when it comes to equality she’s represents Rome and not the vast majority of liberal minded folk in her constituency.

  19. A beautiful letter!

  20. Robert in S. Kensington 8 Feb 2013, 12:48pm

    Well written, Natalie. I doubt if Teather will respond but if she does, please let us know what she says.

    She’d better not dare try courting the gay vote ever again. She’s incapable of separating religious from secular and as such, should not be in government.

    I’d like to hear her response to hetero widows and widowers with children who never remarry. I’m sure some of them would be deeply offended by her insensistive and hurtful statement. Are their one parent families as inferior as she thinks ours are.

  21. I share my letter to Conservative MP Edward Timpson whom abstained in the Same Sex vote.

    24th January 2013

    Equal Marriage

    Further to my letter of 10th December 2012, as I have not had a reply from yourself, I would assume that regarding Gay Marriage, your stance would be to oppose the motion. As President Obama has re-affirmed his committment to same-sex marriage it is only a matter of time that marriage equality will be instituted within England and Wales.
    As I stated in my previous letter to yourself that David Cameron is a courageous Prime Minister and deserves to be supported by all in the Conservative Party.
    Personally, my grown up family will not vote for a political party that does not stand for Equality for it’s minority peoples, as Civil Partnerships have not proven to be Equal to a marriage. Ths is a shortened version due to ammount of letters given on the script page.

  22. Brilliant letter. I hope she does meet with you.

  23. Dr Paul Davis-Whiteskunk 8 Feb 2013, 3:30pm

    So beautifully written and so very logical. The MP should be ashamed of herself for not representing the views of her constituents but of her own personal views. Shame on her, and well done you.
    Dr Paul D

  24. ..there is just one thing I wish to exclaim. Take the word EQUALITY out of the whole issue, because there is no evidence of equal attitude anywhere, will someone realize that gay marriage is simply not regarded fro the start as ‘equal’ by anyone who opposes it.

    1. Staircase2 9 Feb 2013, 1:40am

      …I think you’re missing the point…

  25. As a gay man and roman (hate that word) catholic; I have the moral courage to decide for myself, what is right and wrong. She is entitled to her beliefs, but should also consider the wider picture. The next election showed be quite interesting.

    1. “Give me a boy until he’s four, and he’s mine for life!” Wasn’t it the jesuits who declaimed that working definition of brain-washing? And what is Papa Doc Duratzinger doing now? Getting out of the way while his potential Canonisation is still a theoretical possibility.

  26. Jake Hadlow 8 Feb 2013, 9:30pm

    If Sarah Teather thinks that Catholic heterosexuals have the right to interfere in the lives of non-Catholic gay people then presumably she would agree that the opposite holds true? I suggest protesting at the church she attends, St. Mary Magdalen’s, St Andrews Road, Willesden Green. Masses on Sunday at 9:00 am and 10:30 am.

    1. Jake

      Oh no: I hope people don’t turn up to protest at her church.

      I am a very strong supporter of equal marriage, and am disappointed that she did not feel able to vote for the Bill. I am also a very strong opponent of dogmatic religion.

      But her record on LGBT rights is generally very good, and there are plenty of politicians whose record is appalling. They are the people, if anyone, who deserve a protest.

      But at their offices or surgeries. Not at their place of worship. If there is one thing that will alienate public support for equal marriage, which is very good and growing, it is that kind of gesture. And it will go down particularly badly if directed against someone who is generally very supportive on LGBT issues.

  27. As a constituent of Sarah Teather’s, I can assure you that here we’re very much looking forward to the next election when we’ll boot her out. Since joining government, Teather has consistently lied to us, from tuition fees to local issues and now equality – her own website trumpeted her party’s support for equal marriage before the vote. Teather is a disgrace who does not represent this diverse inner-London constituency. Already kicked out from the cabinet by her own party and having treated her constituents with contempt, her political career will soon be over.

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