Monday, 18 May 2015

Tim Farron And Same-Sex Marriage

If I had been an MP in the last Parliament (stop thanking deities I wasn't back there!) I'd have had many second thoughts about voting for the same-sex marriage bill. I went over my reasons for that repeatedly during the debates but they are summed up here.

I state that as a way of saying I'm open-minded (a rare state for me, as you well know Dear Constant Reader) about those who may have had similar concerns about a very flawed bill and even those who abstained (but I'm far less open-minded about those who voted against it as it was clearly a step in the right direction and not worthy of total rejection!). Cheerleaders who hold the same-sex marriage act up as some amazing piece of progressive legislation will not get much of a warm reception from me.

Tim Farron, in the midst of a Lib Dem leadership campaign, has come under fire from his opponent Norman Lamb on the issue of same-sex marriage. I've seen some less well-informed Tweeple (especially non-LDs) claiming Tim Farron was against same-sex marriage. That is absolutely not true.

Farron voted for the same-sex marriage bill in its early stages. He abstained from voting during it's Third Reading. He states this was because of his concerns over protections for some religious communities and conscientious objectors.

I've expressed a great deal of concern regarding Farron's actions regarding some issues around religion in the past. So I'm no Tim Farron fanboy (though, for full disclosure, I am currently planning to vote for him). But, to give him his due, he has been unfailingly consistent in framing his stances on very clear individual liberty grounds. Some of his positions have made me feel uncomfortable but, I admit, have often made me consider whether I'm holding a position from the point of view of consistency or because of some prejudice I may have. And whenever I've engaged with him he has been willing to listen, to respond politely and to appear to consider other points of view.

Farron has made it clear he regrets that his abstention may be taken as a lack of support for same-sex marriage in principle and that he very much supports it and will defend it should it come under attack from the new Tory Government. We can't really ask for more than that now can we?

Well he could champion some of my concerns with regards to the act, of course... ;)


Anonymous said...

His stance seems anything but consistent to me. In that interview, he says he voted for the legalisation of equal marriage. But of course he abstained on the third reading.

And now he says if he had to make the decision again, he wouldn't abstain, but would vote in favour. What's changed, apart from the fact that he's trying to win an election?

Anonymous said...

The same sex marriage bill did flush out quite a few homophobic lib dems, something which was quite a surprise to me. Tim Farron was perhaps the least surprising one who didn't support SSM. The lib dems were extremely disappointing when it came to the SSM bill, some of the most horrible comments/speeches came from the likes of Shirley Williams etc.. No wonder they did so badly in the election and lost their core supporters.

Anonymous said...

I think it was the fair weather supporters who deserted as always, not the loyal core supporters.