"very delightful, artistic and loving"
Monday and Tuesday saw the House of Lords do its second reading of the Marriage (Same-sex couples) Bill. I watched what I could on the live stream a joined in the fun on Twitter. There was the usual mixture of offensive "I'm not a homophobe" speeches and wonderful, heart-warming contributions.
One major theme new in this debate was whether the Lords had a constitutional right to reject the bill at this stage. The Commons passed the Bill with a large majority without any whip, this typically means that the Lords does not reject a Bill. Lords in this case questioned the unwhipped nature of the vote adding to the normal bollocks about the lack of mandate.
Lord Dear led the anti-campaign with an amendment to the second reading question. he would have changed
That this Bill be read a second time
That this House declines to give the Bill a Second Reading
The only sense I can make of this amendment is that a "Content" on the original question is very different to a "Not Content"; it denies the possibility of passing the Second Reading at all.
The very good news, as I am sure you are aware, is that this amendment was not passed. It was rejected by a majority of 242. The actual question was also passed (but no formal division was necessary) which means that the Bill has now passed to a "committee of the whole House" for consideration in detail.
While I can't write to every Lord/Lady who voted for the Bill thanking them for their support, I am writing to a one - Lord Deben (PDF). Lord Deben used his speech to express his distaste of the inequality of Civil Partnerships (an issue I have been raising throughout) while also speaking of his own religious beliefs and how they should not impact on state provision and secular society.
I would use this blog post to point out how disingenous the Archbishop of Canterbury's words were. He appears to acknowledge the mistreatment the Church of England has acted out towards queer people and says that homophobic language is always wrong but goes on to do a speech about "normal". I would do this, but Aethelread has done a brilliant job of it.
The title of this post comes from Baroness Knight. It is her opinion of 'homosexuals'. On Five Live earlier today apparently she added "very good with antiques" to the list of attributes. The good news is that view is going. The other good news is that in the league table of anti- slogans, Merciless Prism of Equality is still my favourite.
A final comment I have from the Lords debate is the incredibly patronising attitude (some) of them had towards young people. One Lord summed it up with:
I suspect that many of those young people would say off the top of their heads, “Of course, marriage for everybody”. When they actually become married themselves they will mature into a different mindset, but that is by the bye.
Yes, young people's opinions are completely invalid ladies and gentlemen. How much more patronising can you get?
But I don't want this post to only focus on the bad. There were some excellent speeches I think should be shared and which I feel speak for themselves. While others have linked to the powerful testimony from gay Lords like Smith and Brown, some of the speeches I particularly liked were:
- Baroness Gould on the deficiencies in the Bill for trans* people
- Baroness Morgan on Marriage as Vocation, more than just a contract
- Baroness Neuberger on the Libral Jewish position
- Lord Deben, as above
As well as Lord Deben, I have also written to my MP, Helen Jones (PDF). This letter sadly is less complementary. It shows my anger at her personally for not taking part in the third reading vote and the Labour party generally.
It probably won't do any good, but you've got to try - next up the potential rise of the Snoopers' Charter (Communications Data Bill) and Maria Miller's attempt to censor the internet (on that subject, I am currently reading and really enjoying Hacking Politics).