Current Affairs

Lynne Featherstone: I support opposite-sex civil partnerships but the amendment may be a ‘cynical trap’

May 19, 2013
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Liberal Democrat MP and International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone has said she supports opposite-sex civil partnerships, but is concerned by proposed amendment to the same-sex marriage bill allowing them, as it is being pushed forward by marriage equality opponents.

Writing on her website, Ms Featherstone cautioned “beware opponents bearing gifts – for the people pushing this change are not those with records of supporting equality and marriage rules that accommodate a diversity of couples.”

Tim Loughton MP – who previously pushed for a referendum on same-sex marriage and said gay people told him they “don’t want to get married” – has championed an amendment to the equal marriage bill proposing that civil partnerships be open to opposite-sex couples.

An extract from Ms Featherstone’s piece:-

With the [equal marriage] legislation coming back to Parliament this coming week, I’ve been reading through some of the many amendments which will be debated. Many of them are fundamentally from those who disagree with same sex marriage and I trust and hope they will fail.

However, there are two that I would normally not hesitate to support. I am in favour of humanist weddings and opposite-sex Civil Partnerships. However, in the case of the opposite sex Civil Partnership proposals it’s a matter of beware opponents bearing gifts – for the people pushing this change are not those with records of supporting equality and marriage rules that accommodate a diversity of couples.

No, instead the proposals are coming from the likes of Tim Loughton and others who are avowed and determined opponents of equal marriage.

Have Tim and his colleagues suddenly become converts to the cause of equality? Given their public statements I fear what is at work here is rather darker and more cynical – a deliberate attempt to wreck the legislation by introducing extra issues to it that will make it easier for opponents of equal marriage in Parliament to then filibuster, delay and block the legislation.

I have just got back from a ministerial trip Nigeria and so will find out more tomorrow. If this is simply a cynical trap by opponents of equal marriage to block it, then we need to be careful not to fall into it – no matter how temptingly attractive the amendments are that are being used to lay the trap.

A ComRes poll found overwhelming parliamentary support for the amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, championed by Mr Loughton MP, which would extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples.

On Thursday, it emerged that the government intends to review the future of civil partnerships exactly five years from the point when the same-sex marriage bill comes into law for England and Wales.

It opens the door for the possible extension of civil partnerships to heterosexuals – something which Culture Secretary Maria Miller ruled out as current government policy on Tuesday.

More: Civil partnerships, equal marriage, gay marriage, gay wedding, lesbian marriage, lesbian wedding, lib dem mp, liberal democrat, lynne featherstone, marriage, Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, marriage equality, mp, same sex marriage, Same-sex wedding, Tim Loughton, UK Marriage Bill, wedding

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