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Lib Dems’ Baroness Williams defends opposition to same-sex marriage as an ‘issue of conscience’

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  1. St Sebastian, the humanist 15 Sep 2013, 10:23am

    ‘ I believe in the sacrament of marriage which is distinct in my view from any civic legislation.”

    Well Baroness Williams, the legislation was civic in purpose, churches were specifically excused from any requirement to perform SSM. Hypocrisy much, disappointed much. We need to separate Church and Religion.

    1. I love it when they talk about the “sacrament” or “sanctity” of marriage like it still exists.

      The moment “Elvis Presley” became ordained is when the sanctity died – yet they say we’re the ones who are destroying this sacred institution, which ends in divorce half the time anyway

      1. Not to mention heterosexual celebs like the late Elizabeth Taylor (who is now being challenged by Katie Price) going through spouses like cars.

  2. Tim Hanafin 15 Sep 2013, 10:26am

    Still defending the indefensible, Shirley!?

  3. No the issue of conscience is the willingness to hold a bigoted position. No person of conscience is able to legitimately object to any issue of human rights or social justice. The right to marry is a Civil Law, to which religions are invited to participate with the permission of The State.

  4. Of course, no mention from PN of the packed-out celebration of Same-Sex Marriage last night at Lib Dem Conference featuring MPs including Lynne Featherstone, Julian Huppert, Stephen Gilbert, Stephen Williams and others, and various members of the Lib Dems Lords team including Baroness Barker.

    1. I know Dave, it’s all a dirty anti-Lib Dem plot by those Labour loving toadies at Pink News ……

      Obviously Shirley W has been a Lobour mole within the heart of Lib Dems for the last 35 years, just waiting for this moment to detonate this suicide bomb ….

    2. @Dave Page

      Was Simon Hughes at the SSM celebration last night?

      1. That would be hypocritical of him, wouldn’t it.


        1. i thought hypocrite was his middle name

      2. Sister Mary Clarence 16 Sep 2013, 9:22am

        I trust they turned him away at the door, if he showed his shameful face

  5. Jock S. Trap 15 Sep 2013, 10:35am

    “Her position does not mean people should be discriminated against, she argued.”

    And yet, Baroness Williams, it does just that.

    Thankfully the majority disagreed and passed the legislation.

  6. Like Sarah Teather I think Shirley Williams’ days in the lib dem party must surely be over……..The SSM debate was a true eye opener and really showed these people in their true colours…Basically they re politicians put in parliament by the Catholic church to do their dirty work and bugger any other responsibilties and loyalties to their party, their constituents etc, etc….

    The majority of the Catholic MPs and probably peers voted for equal marriage , they remain Catholic but aren’t slaves to the Pope. They at least had a brain and a conscience which is far more than Shirley has.

    1. Sorry for appearing so dumb but Sarah teather because of her Catholic base she was unable to vote for SSM. Surely its not about her but the people in Brent who voted her in -she represents them . not herself.


      1. She is a representative, not a delegate. Liberal democracy requires our politicians honestly to exercise independent judgement, not just to reflect anything their constituents want.

  7. Helge Vladimir Tiller 15 Sep 2013, 10:45am

    Totally without any logic. I suggest an intensive course about how our BRAIN develops and might submit to religion. Be aware when you reach the chapter “Brainwashed”, dear Baroness W.

  8. keith francis farrell 15 Sep 2013, 10:56am

    I think this is one very mixed up woman. “I am. I’m a Liberal Democrat, I’m a believer in equality.” I think you forgot to take your meds. you cannot state this while voting for discrimination. That is just stupid. If you believe in equality, then you make sure that everyone has equal rights regardless of who the fall in love with. what has happened is you have mixed up your religion with equality. choose a side. at least then we will know who we are fighting.

  9. How does being divorced fit with her view that marriage is between one man and one woman for life. She is a religious loon who has let her faith rule her life when it’s suits. Does it not follow then that by remarrying she is an adulteress.
    She cares about no on but herself – having had the misfortune to correspond with her I can confirm ” she had the feeling of the night about her’ to quote another papish loon.
    She believes she is better than us and that the kingdom of heaven awaits her.
    News flash death is only that death they’ll be no exultation on high just a box in the ground or the oven.
    She is a sad old lonely woman who has just been lucky to get where she has.

  10. Marriage is NOT the property of religion!

    1. Metsän poika 15 Sep 2013, 11:24am


    2. It’s a shame to see so many people and religious folk just accept that religion has a monopoly on marriage and owns the patent when it’s a fact that same-sex “marriages” were taking place long before their Christ or their Bible was even around !

  11. & just to continue, frankly Baroness Williams you being deliberately obtuse.

  12. Colin (London) 15 Sep 2013, 11:21am

    Putting Gods that no one has ever proven exists before people……..and she was a politician – disgraceful.

    Get gods / religion out of Parliament and off this planet.

  13. Mark Oakley 15 Sep 2013, 11:31am

    And which other discriminations should be allowed by law? The precedent Williams sets is ugly

  14. Poor women, she’s lost her marbles.

    Despite what she says she was absent from most equality votes, she voted for the repeal of Section 28, but against the Equality Act SOR 2007. The last time she was in government James Callaghan was the Prime Minister! She was first elected as a Labour MP before I was born. She last was an MP in 1983, left the UK, then came back when she was made a Baroness in the House of Lords in 1993.

    Whilst I think she’s made a good contribution to politics and society, she, like Teather, have very strange views about true equality, both being anti-gay in terms of marriage equality. She’s a narrow-minded anti-gay 1950s bigot. I’m sorry I once looked up to her.

    1. Marriage is the name we give to the sexual union between one man and one woman, intended to last for life. As such it is equal at the level of the individual -which is what allows marriage to be a human right. By its very nature, marriage cannot be equal at the level of the relationship, since only one relationship is a marriage.

      Shirley Williams has got it right.

      1. methinks you have the wrong user name. it should be “simple mind”. lots of serious sounding sentences, none of which make an iota of sense.

        marriage is the union of two people. period.

        marriage has had SO many definitions that for you to imply that it holds only one is the pinnacle of ridiculous.

      2. Well, in that case how and why did Shirley Williams’ first marriage not “last for life”?

      3. We give names to lots of things, and the names change. Language is no more immobile than the societies it is used in, no matter what religious authoritarians might wish.

      4. “Marriage is the name we give to the sexual union between one man and one woman, intended to last for life.”…nah, check the OED mate…you’ve got it wrong:-)…

  15. Sad really. Just another religiously-brainwashed bigot whose instincts for fairness and equality have been screwed by the insane ramblings of an ancient novel.

  16. What nonsense Shirley Williams!
    You put your Religions’ doctrine, ahead of freedom of and from religion in our laws. A doctrine of the RCC, the doctrine of natural law the same doctrine that insisted that the Sun moves around the Earth, the same doctrine that promulgates “complementarity” and fosters world overpopulation. The doctrine of the Catholic church which the congregation of the doctrine of the faith {the inquisition} persecuted Galileo over, which has nothing, nothing! to do with nature and what is natural, it is a catholic doctrine peddled as “fact”.
    All of which the majority of “catholic’s” ignore as being against science and reason.
    No-one least of all the catholic church, in spite of their interminable whining, was being compelled to have a same-sex marriage or to conduct one.
    It was ENABELING those who believe in freedom from religion and freedom of religious belief to choose to have a same-sex marriage. A measure to enhance freedom. Fail as a Liberal on the basics.

  17. As in she has no conscience so has no compunction in fighting for bigotry

    1. See how screwed up religion gets you …and how selective the ‘belivers’ are in their use of their bible? Cynical and hypocrtical.

  18. “The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.”

    That is the first line in the Lib-Dem constitution, I believe it is printed on the party’s membership card, so she has no excuse.
    Why is this woman in the party, she obviously does not believe in the most fundamental value of being liberal, freedom of and from religion and not to be oppressed by it. It was one of the primary reasons for the French revolution and the “enlightenment”.
    Ignorant and stupid and enslaved by conformity of her churches doctrine, and worse, she wants the State to continue to enforce HER religious views against those who do not share them.
    Even if she believes this is a matter of conscience which I would dispute, you do NOT enforce your position of conscience on others by law!!!!!!

  19. Robert in S. Kensington 15 Sep 2013, 12:51pm

    So, Shirely Williams, just what is the difference between the approach men and women come to marriage, excluding the procreation nonsense for a moment, compared to the way in which gay couples consider marriage. Explanation please.

    Jesus bloody Christ, what is it with these loons who can’t separate religious from civil marriage? Where is it written in the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1973 that civil marriage is a sacrament? That she believes in marriage as distinct from any civic legislation would imply that she doesn’t believe in civil marriage.

  20. Mihangel apYrs 15 Sep 2013, 12:53pm

    Her religious views did not impede her divorcing her husband….

    1. bobbleobble 15 Sep 2013, 1:14pm

      Or remarrying either when her first husband was still alive. Apparently it’s only a sacrament when other people want to get married.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 15 Sep 2013, 2:50pm

        And if they happen to be hetero of course.

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 15 Sep 2013, 1:59pm

      As a catholic, she would have had to have had an annulment. Had she divorced via the civil court she would have been barred from having a sacramental marriage in her church. Of course, we all know that civil marriages aren’t religious and aren’t sacraments. Even the CoE, unlike Williams’ church, does not regard marriage as a sacrament of the gospel but only considers two of them to be, i.e. baptism and eucharist. She’s indeed a very obtuse woman.

      1. I believe she had a dissolution – a no fault divorce – not sure that would appease her catholic masters.
        She would have been unlikely to have grounds for an annulment after 19 years and a child. Unless she admitted she was mentally unstable at the time of the marriage.
        So in the eyes of the catholic church she’s still a adulteress and going to hell LOL

        1. Robert in S. Kensington 15 Sep 2013, 7:11pm

          Apparently her first husband converted to her faith, then several years later became an atheist and they lived apart for a long period of time before she ended the marriage. Her second marriage to American Richard Neustadt took place in St. Edmund’s Catholic Church in Old Hall Green Hertfordshire which means her first marriage must have been annulled to have had a second catholic ceremony.

          1. She must have very good lawyers and connections within the Catholic Church to have made that happen after 19 years og marraige. Perhaps now is payback. Like in the Godfathet LOL
            In an annulment is it not like the marriage never existed – sort of poof and gone. So where does that leave her daughters legitimacy mmmmm

          2. Sorry Robert – bored Sunday night.

            I now understand the Declaration of Nullity- creepy language throughout.

            But I love this bit

            The Catholic Church views all marriages with respect. It presumes that they are true or valid. Thus, it considers the marriages, for example, of two Protestant, Jewish or even nonbelieving persons to be binding in the eyes of God

            So how come then if our unions are can legally be recognised as marriages does the Catholic Church which in its own words views all marriages with respect and views them as true and valid have such an issue with mine. mmmmm just saying it seems the Catholic Church is pretty flexible with everyone except us. Why us I wonder. mmmmm

          3. Robert in S. Kensington 16 Sep 2013, 4:31pm

            allancsn, there was a time when an annulment could only be granted if one party didn’t really intend marrying, refused to have children or consummate the marriage or if one was bi or even gay. Nowadays, you can get an annulment for practically anything if you have the money to cough up. It isn’t cheap either, a few thousand quid.

            I also remember a time when the catholic church didn’t even recognise marriages performed outside the church. To this day, it arrogantly insists that in a mixed faith marriage, the non-catholic must promise to raise any children as catholics otherwise a marriage cannot take place. They ranted bogusly about how they would be forced to marry gay couples during the marriage debate, yet there they are forcing non-catholics to bring up children as catholics. It should be illegal in my view.

      2. Mihangel apYrs 16 Sep 2013, 7:19am

        there would have had to have been a civil divorce.

        Her annulment was ratherlike the one Henry VIII sought – a long marriage, offspring, and then a dissolution.

        Henry didn’t give the pope a large enough bribe!

  21. Would she also excuse misogynistic views as an issue of ‘conscience’?
    Somehow I doubt it.
    It’s plain homophobia, whether she wants to admit it or not. No one would stand for other forms of bigotry, and rightly so. But homophobia is considered ‘an issue of conscience’. Maybe once these old crows have passed on, homosexuality will be accepted for what it is. A natural variation within the broad spectrum of human sexuality.

  22. Mumbo Jumbo 15 Sep 2013, 1:49pm

    Religion is dogma, not conscience.

  23. Shirley Williams used to be a political hero of mine – she is now such a disappointment. Her argument that her opposition of marriage equality was ‘an issue of conscience” is no different from the leaders of the apartheid government in South Africa in the 1980s arguing that their refusal to accept the principle of black South Africans having franchise equality was simply a matter of conscience.

  24. Bill Cameron 15 Sep 2013, 2:19pm

    “I’m not going to apologise. I know who I am. I’m a Liberal Democrat, I’m a believer in equality.”

    She says she wants equality, except when it doesn’t suit her. Hypocrite! You either believe in equality or you don’t. And she doesn’t, despite what she says – she may believe herself, I just think she is deluding herself, but she is not fooling anyone else.

  25. Paul Essex/London 15 Sep 2013, 2:40pm

    “I do regard Christian marriage as a sacrament, and as a sacrament it is quite clear that it says it’s a marriage between a man and a woman…. I believe in the sacrament of marriage which is distinct in my view from any civic legislation”

    Oh dear, I used to have a lot of time for Shirley, I thought she was a brilliant politician. It never fails to amaze me how people who use this argument fail to see how there is a separation of Church and State. She refers to Christian marriage, this is Civil Marriage and has been in the country of for over 150 years. Her argument forces Christianity onto the marriage of all non-christians, be they Muslim, Sikh, HIndu, Buddhist, Atheist or anything else. The fact that some of those beliefs are anti-SSM as well is irrelevant – it’s not a co-operative, you can’t chop and change your logic to suit you. Oh but what am saying! This a church member we’re talking about!

  26. Her statement is a disgrace.

    This women should resign. She seems confused by the fact she be granted the the privilege to be a politician in a secular country.

    Time for her to check herself into a home for the bewildered.


  27. I don’t really think Baroness Williams can, in all fairness, use the issue of conscience as a get-out-of-jail-free card. After all she was aware the Lib Dems had pledged not to allow any increase in tuition fees. Someone with a conscience would not, then, have supported the betrayal of people who voted Lib Dem on the basis of that pledge. And don’t get me started on her NHS sellout …. Baroness Williams doesn’t have an ounce of integrity or credibility.

  28. Carl ROwlands 15 Sep 2013, 5:31pm

    Surprised by this. I always thought that Shirley was the Claire Rayner of politics! I was wrong. I do get very upset when people speak in favour of registrars opting out of civil partnerships. By definition you cannot opt out of undertaking a civic responsibility by virtue of your religious beliefs. The only opt out available is to resign and do something else!

  29. ‘Conflict between equality and liberty’ my @rse.

    She may consider ‘Christian’ marriage as a sacrament, but it wasn’t about Christian marriage it was about civil marriage.

    She also seems to have become a little confused about where she was voting – in church my all means follow herreligious beliefs, but in parliament it should have been her Lib Dem beliefs.

    Its time for the shameless old bigot to stand down – her mind isn’t what it used to be.

    1. It’s actually not possible for life peers to resign or be thrown out of the Lords. If I recall correctly, there are now three peers who have been convicted of serious crimes since entering the Lords, and it isn’t possible to get rid of them.

      1. Mihangel apYrs 16 Sep 2013, 7:15am

        actually they could be if there was a political will to do so.

        The monarch is the “fount” of all the honours, and the monarch can degrade any peer if she (ie the PM) chooses.

      2. Sister Mary Clarence 16 Sep 2013, 9:20am

        The 2nd Viscount Stansgate, Sir Anthony Wedgewood Benn, more commonly known as Tony Benn renounced his peerage as I recall.

  30. Although I disagreed with it, I respected her point of view right up to when she got to saying that gay people can’t be ”stable parents”. Nice bit of generalizing there

  31. Don’t ever accuse a Christian who opposes equal rights for homosexuals of discrimination or prejudice. They are only capable of displaying ‘values’, ‘principles’ and ‘conscience’, don’t ya know?

  32. I used to admire this woman so much. But here she is saying her religious views should decide the civil law under which others live. Some ‘liberalism’!

  33. Briefly during Thatcher’s reign I had hopes for this woman, it didn’t last long and I began to realise she was someone who could just witter on about nothing much while sounding quite intelligent pretty much endlessly.
    Having already been disappointed by Shirley Williams her present stance just makes me feel very sad.

  34. Surely “Christian marriage” as a sacrament is a marriage between one Christian man and one Christian woman? That being the case, her opposition to civil same sex marriage has nothing to do with her views on “Christian” marriage and is simply a smokescreen for her bigotry.

    1. More to the point, “Christian marriage” is supposed to be for life. I haven’t heard a single Christian opponent of SSM calling for divorce to be banned. But then I suppose that would be a bit hypocritical coming from divorcee Shirley Williams.

  35. She seems to mistake an issue of conscience with a position that is unconscionable.

  36. Used to have some regard for Shirley Williams, but that was many years ago. Such a terrible disappointment she has turned out to be.

  37. Barry William Teske 16 Sep 2013, 12:38am

    Lack of conscience is more likely.
    Please lady your logic fails even you.
    Baron and Baroness are defined as being the lowest titles in the system giving out such. Who is fooling who here?

  38. I saw this old biddy rattling against equal marrriage on streaming vid during the debate in parliamenrt

    while churches are rightfully protected from doing ceremonies against their beliefs, time to enforce that they cannot be involved in civil marriage debates etc

    On the other hand if they wanted to do a marriage ceremony between my goldfish and my dog they have that right also.

  39. It’s sad when people get old and start to go senile :(

  40. .....Paddyswurds 16 Sep 2013, 12:22pm

    I never thought i would hear Shirley Williams, someone who I used to admire for her strength, come out with the unbridled bigotry that she has in the last while. Is it real or is she in the early stages of dementia, one wonders? I would have thought years ago that Williams would be a leading atheist, not a dyed in the wool theist and bigot….sigh!

  41. As so many others have pointed out above, it beggars belief that someone of her stature and obvious intelligence could become confused over the issue of civil marriage.

    Why can’t she see that what Catholics consider marriage to be is irrelevant? Would she say that the marriage of people who don’t consider marriage a ‘sacrament’ (or haven’t given the matter any thought, which would be the majority of us) is invalid?

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