Comments: Third Reading for Marriage Bill in House of Lords

Simon,

This is pretty modest tinkering with a Bill which opponents said needed lots of work to get it into any kind of shape. I have followed things fairly closely, and note that every single wrecking amendment that was put to the test failed dramatically usually by a factor of 3 or 4. I guess that ping-pong will take no time at all, as I can't see the Commons not agreeing to all these amendments. How long does Royal Assent usually take after the Third Reading?

I note that the rally being organised by Christian Concern on Monday has been called off, ostensibly because there is no vote on the Third Reading. Is this correct? Can a Bill get nodded through without a division of the House? Even if this is the case, I wonder why they really decided not to bother turning up to protest at the arrival of equal marriage and the weddings that will happen next year with with their marriage certificates which Colin Hart of C4M described yesterday as "perfectly lawful but actually fake"?

His claim of contacting their supporters soon with "exciting news" about where next for C4M seems a bit far fetched - the protesters against civil partnerships simply couldn't get any traction once they were introduced. I see no reason to believe that the passing of the new law here (which looks as if it is going to be a very quiet affair) will be not followed by a huge media brouhaha around the first weddings (of course) and will then very quickly become a normal part of life.

C4M are welcome to think what they want, and to go on protesting in any legal way they like. But within ten years no one will remember what all the fuss was about, and it will all be perfectly ordinary. The antis will no doubt seize upon any news of same-sex marriage breakdowns as evidence that the country is falling apart - but then they do that with any unflattering news about LGBT people anyway, tarring all with the same unpleasant brush. So that won't be new. And they will gradually become a smaller and smaller ghetto. Like racists, they are perfectly entitled to think what they like in the privacy of their own homes, but the public space will have changed for ever.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 8:21am BST

By the way, does this overwhelming victory in Parliament, aided by the many Christians who voted for the Bill mean that C4M and their allies will now accept that the answer to all their fervent prayers was "No"? No, I thought not...

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 8:25am BST

Am I right in my impression that none of the amendments proposed by those hostile to the Bill, including all the bishops, was accepted?

Posted by Kate at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 11:58am BST

Yes, that is correct. Although numerous amendments have been made, none of them are hostile amendments. Proceedings when it returns to the Commons should be quite swift.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 12:13pm BST

Yes, their prayers were answered it's just that the answer was 'No'. I think that the religious angle on this is intriguing when you start to ponder it. The Bible doesn't really contain a teaching on marriage - there are elements of man-woman monogamy but quite a lot of polygamy that didn't trouble God to talk to his followers about at the time. So presumably God didn't think that marriage of couples of the same sex would become that big an issue or else the marriage teaching would have been adequately clarified.

I fervently hope and pray for the bill to receive its third reading without a division of the House. This is because the bill has had lopsided majorities whenever it has been tested so there's no point in having a division. The usual precedent is to vote on third reading in this way, unless I am very much mistaken.

I am not sure why Christian Concern have cancelled their demo. I think if you know there are going to be no votes then it sort of removes the psychology of the moment and makes it somewhat of a damp squid.

Maybe they thought they would look slightly ridiculous. But then that's never been a hindrance in the past.

For my part there has been quite a lot of debate and discussion about different angles in the Bill on the pages of Thinking Anglicans where people of differing opinions have wrestled with the issues at stake. It has been a very well informed and considerate discussion (rare in the Internet) which I have very much appreciated. If you wanted accurate up to date consideration of the Bill you came to Thinking Anglicans and I very much hope for similar the Scottish Bill (of course not quite as Anglican and no quadruple lock to consider but still relevant to teaching on marriage within the Communion). And of course thanks to Simon for the regular posting of really interesting links on a regular basis.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 12:50pm BST

This, copied from Christian Concern's website regarding cancellation of the demo:

We're sorry to inform you that after much consideration we have decided to cancel the prayer gathering we had organised for Monday (15th July), as it now appears there will not be a vote at the third reading of the same sex marriage bill on Monday and what happens on that day in the House of Lords will be a mere formality. We have therefore decided not to gather on Monday but to conserve energy for a future occasion.

Posted by peter kettle at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 3:07pm BST

The following letter from the Chief Executive Officer of Christian Concern was copied to members of the General Synod:
---------
I have sent the email below to Archbishop Justin and all the bishops who sit in the House of Lords.

Kind regards
Andrea Minichiello Williams
_________________________________________________________

Dear Archbishop Justin

At General Synod I made a request (SO 33) for the Archbishops to consider postponing the day’s business until the next day to enable all those bishops who are members of the House of Lords to be present at the crucial debate on the redefinition of marriage. Votes were taken on amendments to protect people from being discriminated against in the workplace for their belief in marriage between one man and one woman in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

Pursuant to this request, could you please provide an explanation as to:

1 Why, on Monday 8th July, only two bishops were present (Chester and Leicester);

2 Why the Bishop of Leicester voted against Amendment 1, which sought to maintain a distinction between marriages of same sex couples and marriages of opposite sex couples;

3 Why the Bishop of Leicester did not vote on any other amendments;

4 Why the Bishop of Chester did not vote on Amendment 46, which sought protections for school teachers;

5 Why, on Wednesday 10th July, there were not more bishops present;

6 Why only three of these voted for Amendment 94, which sought to extend the availability of Civil Partnerships to unpaid carers and family members.

I am surprised that the Church of England appears to be vacating the public square when it comes to the issue of marriage. Given the rich teaching of Scripture and strong tradition of marriage, this is something that the CofE should be able to comment on clearly, intelligently and winsomely. Marriage is something to be celebrated, promoted and, at this time, preserved. At a time when the nation needs to hear a prophetic voice on marriage, the CofE’s message is sadly mixed and, as a result, unclear.

I am writing to you out of deep concern both for our Church and our nation’s future.

Yours sincerely
Andrea Minichiello Williams

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 3:56pm BST

What a ghastly, hectoring letter. Written in green ink, one suspects.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 5:27pm BST

(Suitably ashamed at not managing a grammatical comment earlier: I was on an iPhone and also distracted by delicious Austrian soup)

But yes, as Jeremy says, the opposition very much gave us to understand that the Bill was hastily thrown together junk, that if not carefully revised would throw up all sorts of impossible situations about teachers, adultery, polygamy and God knows what. Then whenever one of these things popped up in the Lords debate, it turned out to have been very well covered elsewhere with no need for elucidation in the Bill.

Also wondering if 'winsome' is a word that's been used any time since 1930, outside of letters written by Andrea Minichiello Williams.

Posted by Kate at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 6:22pm BST

I for one am delighted that the objections of Religious groups have been ignored and perhaps they'll not cease their campaign seeking to deny true marriage equality for all.

And all power to those who came to the Commons and the Lords to overwhelmingly demonstrate that this is the will of the nation, not just a hobby horse for David Cameron.

Posted by Ernie at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 6:40pm BST

The only possible response to this arrogant letter is to ignore it. Who does Ms Williams think she is?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 7:46pm BST

'How long does Royal Assent usually take after the Third Reading?'(Jeremy Pemberton)

Jeremy I understand, that it is hoped Royal Assent will be granted on Thursday.

Posted by Laurence at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 8:11pm BST

"Winsomely" is becoming a catch word for Conservative Evangelicals (though I'm still not sure what it means). Pete Myers of the Church Society has written recently about engaging "winsomely" with opponents and, particularly, female clergy-make of that what you will.

Posted by Helen at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 10:17pm BST

http://www.christianconcern.com/prayer-rally-15th-july-cancelled

Posted by Laurence at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 11:33pm BST

'1 Why, on Monday 8th July, only two bishops were present (Chester and Leicester);'

There should have been 'only' two bishops present!

That is their normal practice.
More questionable by far, is the fact there were double figures on the first day or two.

Posted by Laurence at Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 11:36pm BST

I'd not heard winsome used by evangelicals. The only sense I would expect to hear it used would be of a little girl, tilting her head on one side while she asks daddy for another ice cream. Most dictionaries I've looked at ascribe some element of "child like" to it, and my suspicion is that when used of adult discourse, it normally implies disingenuity.

So, it might be an appropriate word for evangelicals on same-sex marriage after all.

Posted by Interested Observer at Sunday, 14 July 2013 at 8:53am BST

Unlike Ms Minichiello Williams perhaps the Bp of Leicester listened to arguments when he voted against a wrecking amendment. Perhaps he did so because his conscience told him it was not honest in intent. I think he did something to retrieve some integrity from the lamentable history of the C of E over this whole debate and I think Lord Alli appreciated this in his kind words to the Bishop and to Justin Welby for his speech to Synod on the second day of Report.

Posted by Tom at Sunday, 14 July 2013 at 10:23am BST

Dear Laurence,

Has it ever been the case that all 26 bishops have turned up to vote? Presumably Ms Minichiello Williams would have liked them all to turn up and vote the way SHE wanted, but even if they had done that it wouldn't have affected the outcomes...and maybe she needs to consider if she is on the wrong side of the argument (maybe even HER God does not agree with her on this?).

Posted by Tom at Sunday, 14 July 2013 at 10:30am BST

Stephen Sondheim uses 'winsome' in 'Everybody Ought To Have A Maid' - in which he imagines a dramatically meek and compliant woman - but I'm pretty sure the great man was being sarcastic...

Posted by Kate at Sunday, 14 July 2013 at 2:51pm BST


What a wonderfully brave, honest and encouraging quotation to think on at this time, perhaps ?


"I face you therefore as an ambiguous compromised and questioning person, entering upon an ambiguous office in an uncertain church in the midst of a threatened and threatening world. I dare to do this, and I, even with fear and trembling, rejoice to do this, because this is where God is to be found. In the midst, that is of the ambiguities, compromises, the uncertainties, the questions, and the threats of our daily and ordinary worlds" David Jenkins at his enthronement as Bishop of Durham 1984.

Posted by Laurence at Sunday, 14 July 2013 at 4:21pm BST

Mother Winsome of the former Wantage Community has been in the news recently.

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/05/10/eleven-sisters-who-became-catholic-five-months-ago-still-seek-permanent-home/

Posted by Veuster at Sunday, 14 July 2013 at 4:41pm BST

A moving testimony to a death bed marriage made possible against great odds.

This is what real gay couples may be like....

http://www.bilerico.com/2013/07/terminally-ill_oh_man_marries_husband_at_md_airpor.php

Posted by Laurence at Sunday, 14 July 2013 at 9:46pm BST

The church is living in the 10th century and its the church's own fault that equality will pass for gay people.

The church does have the right to live in the 10th century but not to drag others to the bottom with it.

I guarantee you that within a couple years the CoE will come crying to parliament to be allowed to do SSM.

It will be a matter of survival

Posted by henry Klamper at Monday, 15 July 2013 at 11:25am BST

"I guarantee you that within a couple years the CoE will come crying to parliament to be allowed to do SSM."

Based on the views on my teenage children, I suspect that they would not be willing to be married in a place which excluded their gay friends. I doubt they're alone in that. The CofE again risks turning itself into a fringe cult for bigots. The passage of SSM legislation today will make heterosexual marriage in a registry office an act of solidarity, but heterosexual marriage in a church an act of oppression.

Posted by Interested Observer at Monday, 15 July 2013 at 3:04pm BST

Poor Andrea M Williams - the House of Lords just passed it with no "not contents". What were those Lords Spiritual doing???!!

Hurrah - Equal Marriage is nearly here!

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Monday, 15 July 2013 at 4:33pm BST

I loved the thanks given to the Bishops for their valuable input - which was completely ignored!

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Monday, 15 July 2013 at 4:42pm BST

Those with a taste for the deluded should read:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10180552/Gay-marriage-clears-the-House-of-Lords.html

C4M appear to believe that by having 700 000 signatories to their petition they are in a position to swing 39 marginal seats, and therefore can issue demands to MPs (the usual nonsense about registrars, carers and siblings). Aside from the fact that none of the measures they propose could be passed without a government bill, which won't be forthcoming, and all of the measures they propose were roundly rejected by the Lords anyway, it's the sort of political illiteracy that only true obsessives can engage in.

The presumption amongst people for whom the "no to SSM" flame burns most brightly is that no-one is ambivalent: everyone who signed the petition cares as deeply as the organisers, which is to say it's their number one concern. Which is just nonsense. I recently signed a petition about parking restrictions around a local accident blackspot: I'd hardly alter the way I voted in a general election on the strength of the candidates' position on this.

Most people who sign petitions have no more than a vague preference one way or the other, probably haven't thought about it terribly deeply, and are often influenced by the person holding the pen. Believing that most (or, indeed, some, or indeed more than a handful) of people who sign petitions will then, three years later, vote in a general election solely on the same issue is obviously fanciful.

And given SSM, in its current guise, enjoys cross-party support, for whom (posh this Molesworth go on) are they proposing to vote? UKIP? The BNP? Seriously?

Posted by Interested Observer at Monday, 15 July 2013 at 5:06pm BST

"C4M appear to believe that by having 700 000 signatories" Interested Observer

And are there really that many? There are fewer than 1000 signatories on each page and only 234 pages of signatories. I also doubt the authenticity of some of the signatures, given that - during a cursory scan - I note that someone called 'Adolf Hitler' is listed as a supporter, in addition to a handful of our Right Reverend Bishops.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Monday, 15 July 2013 at 6:01pm BST

Readidng the article in the Daily Telegraph can we see the Bishop of Norwich already starting the rowing back from the CofEs absolutist position?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Monday, 15 July 2013 at 7:37pm BST

Laurence Cunnington: The curse of the unchecked petition strikes again! In 1848 the last great Chartist petition (a far more worthy enterprise IMHO that the C4M petition) foundered in part when the signatories were found to include Mr Punch, Queen Victoria, and even The Man In The Moon!

Posted by Sam Roberts at Monday, 15 July 2013 at 7:50pm BST

Dear Interested Observer

The thought crossed my mind that they would stand their own candidates. Although they made hay on the issue I don't think UKIP would look kindly on the possibility of C4M supporting them, the BNP would of course be delighted.

We'll see of course but wiser minds know that standing candidates is a perilous business and when one loses one's deposits both expensive and humiliating. Still it's a free country and if that is their pleasure then they are free to do so. If they succeed they will punish the Conservatives and help put Labour into office; most likely it won't even achieve this. But at their most successful they won't elect a single MP (for themselves, UKIP or the BNP) and the chances of reversing the law don't look too good either.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Monday, 15 July 2013 at 9:08pm BST

Craig,

Yes, the thought had crossed my mind as well. But I assumed they were just deluded, rather than stark staring mad. If they advised people to vote for a list of C4M-approved candidates, who are otherwise from mainstream parties, then the reality of just how little support they have will be concealed: mainstream candidates don't generally lose their deposits.

But a special hand-picked list of swivel eyed lunatics, running on a "no rights for gays" platform? There might a vague pleasure in watching their campaign implode as they turn out to be a motley crew of racists, young-earth creationists, the "quiverfull" fringe, and so on, but it's not as though they're going to do anything other than lose their deposits. Every press conference would be a ticking bomb, with the excitement coming when the candidate, as will be inevitable, starts talking loudly about buggery, child molestation and the end of civilisation. It would not be edifying. And the fun would wear off.

Posted by Interested Observer at Monday, 15 July 2013 at 10:17pm BST

I know of a church where the priest put out the C4M petition at the back of the church and invited parishioners to "sign it to show their support for marriage". Most duly went and signed it.

I would be very surprised if many really knew what they were signing, or even if they did, whether that would translate into passionate support for any major political campaign.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 15 July 2013 at 10:39pm BST

Lest anyone think that the antis are not going to develop their persecution mania to the max, I do recommend a look at Anglican Mainstream tonight. They are already quoting Martin Niemoller's well-known protest:

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me."

It is laughable - but it is also disgusting - they are not persecuted by other people gaining equality, and the comparison of their disappointment with the loss of life that others have suffered is shameful.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Monday, 15 July 2013 at 11:32pm BST

"It is laughable - but it is also disgusting - they are not persecuted by other people gaining equality, and the comparison of their disappointment with the loss of life that others have suffered is shameful."

And these right-wingers were the sort who not only said nothing, but cheered on "them coming" for others. Vile creatures.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 5:24am BST

Erika,

"I know of a church where the priest put out the C4M petition at the back of the church"

Would I be right in thinking that you are American? And therefore that it is unlikely that the people who signed in the case you cite are on the electoral roll of a constituency in the United Kingdom?

That was one of the things that scuppered the oh-so-clever campaigning to swing the consultation exercise with form letters. Aside from the woeful misunderstanding of the process and purpose of government consultation exercises, which are not votes and therefore are not really swayed by repetition of the same response, there was the minor problem that a large portion of the duplicate responses were from the US anyway. Oddly enough, UK legislation is a matter for the UK, not for the members of US evangelical churches. It was a sort of reverse Clark County, and equally counter-productive.

Jeremy,

It is a common trope that people with a political bee in their bonnet want to believe they are being persecuted, because it makes them more certain of the virtue of their position. If the state won't provide martyrs, they have to be invented.

Posted by Interested Observer at Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 7:03am BST

Oh, and look at C4M's statement:

"We are one of the largest campaign groups in the nation. We have many more active supporters than the two main political parties have members."

I await, with bated breath, C4M being able to canvass door to door in support of candidates in not only every every constituency, but every council ward, in the country.

If C4M has a hundred active members, I would be surprised. There is a point past which they should be ignored until they can demonstrate that they aren't just a tiny bunch of cranks meeting in front rooms.

Posted by Interested Observer at Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 7:15am BST

Another letter from the CEO of Christian Concern
Sent: 15 July 2013
Subject: Further note on bishops vote on marriage Bill

Dear

I copy below a letter I sent today to Richard Chapman, who replied to me in response to my letter which I circulated to you on Friday. This is the response that I sent to him earlier today.

Kind regards
Andrea Minichiello Williams
____________________________________________________

Dear Richard,

Thank you for your email and for the obvious care you took over sending it, time-stamped, as it was, after midnight.

However, I have to say I am extremely surprised at the view you have come to about the vote at Second Reading.

Given the careful, courageous and principled way in which Lord Dear contended on behalf of all of us who believe in marriage, I think we must be very careful indeed about what we say about his approach. He deserves our thanks, I think.

It was very disappointing that the Archbishop himself said in the Second Reading debate that he was against the vote on Second Reading. In the event, of course, the Archbishop himself voted against the Bill, but his statement could well have dissuaded peers from voting with Lord Dear.

The Public Bill Office advised peers that voting at Second Reading was the proper way to object to the principle of the Bill. Perhaps the Archbishop was not aware of this or the clear precedents for such votes.

The Salisbury-Addison Convention did not apply to the Bill firstly because the legislation did not feature in the Conservative or Lib Dem party manifestos and secondly, even if it did, the Bill was subject to a free vote.

The Joint Committee on Conventions in 2006 affirmed that the House has the power to refuse to give a Second Reading to Government Bills where there is a free vote.

In the 1990-91 session the House of Lords rejected the War Crimes Bill at Second Reading, and in 1999 a Bill to lower the age of consent was also defeated at the same stage. These are both parallels to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill: both were free vote issues and neither of them were contained in a manifesto so the Salisbury-Addison Convention did not apply.

The War Crimes Bill was rejected despite it having received a majority of over 200 at Second Reading in the Commons and despite the fact it had been preceded by the Hetherington-Chalmers War Crimes Inquiry, which lasted 15 months. This Bill had considerably more scrutiny than the Marriage Bill, but was still sent back to the drawing board by Peers. The legislation introducing same-sex marriage has had no pre-legislative enquiry or public consultation on the principle of the Bill.

There is a long history of Government Bills being opposed at Second Reading in the Lords. (See list below.) Most recently Labour voted against the Health and Social Care Bill in October 2011. The party argued that since we had a coalition Government the Salisbury-Addison Convention did not apply. It also disputed whether the particular Bill was in any case covered by a manifesto commitment.

Given the spiritual, moral and constitutional enormity of the Marriage Bill, it would have been quite wrong not to vote on the principle. And, indeed, if Lord Dear had not done it, there were other people who would have done so. A vote was inevitable.

It was disappointing that fewer than half the Bishops Bench turned out to vote on the principle on 3 June, and their attendance at Committee and Report was lamentable. If the Church of England takes its role in the Lords seriously, all reasonable steps should have been taken to secure full attendance - the political parties certainly did so, as the votes prove.

The Bishops’ had an extremely poor voting record for the Report Stage. Lay people will ask what is the purpose of having Bishops in the House of Lords if Bishops are too busy to actually vote to defend people who believe in traditional marriage?

I would be grateful to see your 'working out', as it were, for your claim that the Second Reading vote "cost probably around 100 votes". The hostility of all three front benches to even the most moderate of amendments was on display right from the start of the Bill in the Commons. David Burrowes lengthy campaign on the Public Bill Committee to try to persuade the Government to make further concessions to conscience was met with resistance at every step. Obviously, this all took place before Second Reading in the Lords. I realise your duties focus on the Lords but I do think you should have been aware of the hostility and unreasonableness of the parties there long before the Bill reached the Lords. It did not start on 3 June.

We have also seen that the parties' idea of a 'free vote' has also been redefined. Supportive Peers talked to us of not wanting to vote "against the Party" and even of feeling obliged to vote against their conscience at least once in order to placate the whips. Labour, as you know, whipped hard against the amendment on registrars which you supported. You should be aware that they also did so in the Commons - before the Lords Second Reading.

The Labour and Conservative Parties had an extremely strong whip on “attendance at the debate” on the second, but not the first, day of Second Reading. They brought in scores of peers with an extremely low attendance.

The fact is that if there had not been a division at Second Reading, the first vote would have been on an amendment to clause 1, which encapsulates the principle of the Bill, and - we now know - the defeat would have been just as massive. The machinery of all three parties was in full effect against us at every stage and none of us could have predicted that.

I find your analysis confusing when you argue, on the one hand, that you are disappointed at being unable to obtain important concessions in the Lords, but on the other hand that "Most of the necessary provisions and protections had been secured before the Bill was actually introduced." I find that an astonishing conclusion. And I'm afraid history will probably judge this a complacent analysis, since the failure to do anything to protect the consciences of employees will prove to be one of the greatest social ill-effects of this Bill. Whilst the short term picture for church buildings looks OK, the people who actually worship in those buildings will face many hardships.

Your argument seems to amount to the idea that we did not secure concessions because we fought too hard. I note that the government firmly resisted amending the definition of "compelled", or the Public Order Act, in the Commons, but did do so in the Lords. Is it not possible this was a result of the pressure following Second Reading?

Yours,
Andrea Minichiello Williams

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 8:50am BST

Interested Observer
"Would I be right in thinking that you are American? And therefore that it is unlikely that the people who signed in the case you cite are on the electoral roll of a constituency in the United Kingdom?"

I live in rural North Somerset, the church in question is one of our neighbouring parishes, a member of the congregation is a personal friend.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 9:16am BST

The moment may pass quickly enough but I am puzzled to see David Burrowes has put up an amendment to Lords Amendment 18

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2013-2014/0094/amend/pbc0941607m.583-584.html

when there appear only 11 Amendments on the list given here:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2013-2014/0094/14094.1-4.html

Can anyone point to what Burrowe's Amendment refers to?

Posted by Tom at Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 9:28am BST

Although Ms Williams has not distributed the letter from Richard Chapman to which she replies, its contents can be inferred in a Kremlinological way. It is clear that he told her that Lord Dear's move was disastrous for those who opposed the Bill, because it generated an oversize majority in its favour at Second Reading. Which makes the ABC's conduct at 2R, deploring the Dear move and then voting for it, all the more puzzling.

The sight of rows of elderly Peers wearing pink carnations yesterday was quite striking.

Posted by Iain McLean at Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 9:44am BST

Erica: my apologies for my confusion.

In regard to Andrea Minichiello Williams, one is irresistibly reminded of the (not entirely fictional) trope of the Japanese soldier, unaware that the war is over, fighting on for thirty years. The concern trolling for "employees" is preposterous: the Ladele case was fought to the ECHR, and was lost in every forum other than the initial ET.

Had 26 Bishops turned up and voted en bloc then the amendments would still have been lost, but the damage to the CofE would have been irreparable. It would have shown a group of peers whose existence is itself controversial, using their ex officio position to attempt to defeat secular legislation that has substantial majorities both in the Commons and in the population at large. The effect both politically and more widely would have been incalculable: the CofE would have announced, in the strongest possible way, that it was a closed cult for cranks.

"[T]the people who actually worship in those buildings will face many hardships" is hyperbole of the first order. They will face no hardships whatsoever.

Posted by Interested Observer at Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 10:32am BST

The sight of rows of elderly Peers wearing pink carnations yesterday was quite striking.

Posted by: Iain McLean on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 9:44am BST

It was wonderful !

Also when they came over to the stonewall rally to be with us for the singing by the Gay Men's Chorus; and some making speeches rejoicing in all that has been achieved for ourselves and as a pointer to for the world !

Also Nick Clegg and Diane Abbott and a young war veteran.

Also a lovely hug from my favourite baroness !

A strong and visible Christian presence was there, including MCC - the Metropolitan Community Church of London. And the Secretary General of the Unitarian and free Christian Church - among others.

I felt sorry for the half dozen campaigners against equality, especially those preaching in the intense heat ! But was glad to see folk from the rally taking them ice-cream and apple pie and later bags of crisps !

What a beautiful day !

Posted by Laurence at Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 10:59am BST
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