These are difficult times to be a Liberal Democrat MP. You’re looking at rather grim electoral prospects in 2015 and need all the extra publicity as a fighter for freedom and liberal values that you can get.
It is in that context that we must view the intervention of Greg Mulholland into the same-sex marriage debate. The Bill which would introduce same-sex marriage in England and Wales continues its journey through Parliament.
Pink News reports that Mulholland ‘has tabled an amendment to the UK’s same-sex marriage bill proposing a complete separation of state marriage and religious weddings.’
As a long-time advocate for separating state marriage from religious weddings, you might think that I would welcome this move. Well, I do think it’s a sensible statement in academic terms. In political terms, it’s a little silly. It won’t secure enough support to pass so at best, it serves as gesture politics. Mulholland knows this.
Mulholland must also know that tabling an amendment invites debate on this topic. In doing so, it will inevitably attract the fiercest of critics of same-sex marriage, who may even support Mulholland, and who can then once again frame the debate as about a religious institution once the amendment has been defeated.
In the medium-term, once the publicity has been forgotten, this is a move that plays into the hands of those against same-sex marriage, and as such, is a far from helpful intervention. tNice idea, but poor politics Greg.