Shirley seeks to amend same-sex marriage bill: “Equality is not the same as sameness”

by Stephen Tall on July 7, 2013

There’s no doubt Shirley Williams has many admirable qualities. For example, her passionate belief in free-at-the-point-of-use health-care, her passionate defence of excellent education for all, and her quite staggering propensity for appearing on BBC1′s Question Time.

But even the best of us err. First, there was her casual dismissal of sexual harrassment (“we have got somewhat obsessed about getting very exaggerated reactions to what is silly and impolite and discourteous behaviour”). And now there’s her attempt to de-rail same-sex marriage legislation. As PinkNews reports:

Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Williams has tabled a new amendment urging for a legal separation between same-sex marriages and opposite sex marriages.

It states: “marriage between same-sex couples may be defined as same-sex marriage, lawful marriages between same-sex couples may be defined as same-sex marriages, lawful marriage between a man and a woman may be defined as opposite sex marriage and lawful marriages between a man and a woman may be defined as opposite sex marriages.”

Baroness Williams, one of the most senior figures in the Liberal Democrats, has also tabled an amendment allowing registrars to opt out of providing marriages to same-sex couples. … Baroness Williams argued that, as well as biological differences, men and women approach relationships differently – making opposite-sex couples the most “stable” parents. She said: “Equality is not the same as sameness”.

So there we have it… One of the most prominent Lib Dem peers arguing that marriage Isn’t simply defined by the love shared by two people, while exempting public sector employees from carrying out the law of the land…

Less of the same, please, Shirley.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.