Catholic Sarah Teather MP puts defending marriage before career in same-sex marriage vote

Sarah Teather, the Catholic Liberal Democrat MP and former Children’s Minister, put the defence of marriage before her career in the same-sex marriage vote, earning her the vitriolic anti-Catholic hate of members of the homosexual community. Ms Teather is an unlikely Catholic hero considering her previous campaigning for civil partnerships.  What makes her stand even more courageous is that in the explanation she released after the vote she makes it explicitly clear that her committed Catholic faith contributed to her decision:

‘This evening I voted against the second reading of the same-sex marriage bill. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever taken. As a life-long liberal and a committed Catholic I spent many months reflecting on this issue in the lead up to the vote. I wanted to explain to people why I took this step.’

She goes on to explain the truth about real marriage:

However, changing the definition of marriage for me raises other more complex issues.

I believe that the link between family life and marriage is important. We know that permanent stable loving relationships between parents are very important for children. Such relationships make it much easier to offer the kind of consistent loving parenting that enables children to grow into healthy happy adults able to play their part in society. I recognise that this kind of stability can exist outside of marriage, but the act of giving and receiving vows in front of others and making a commitment for life is an aid to stability. It is precisely the reason that marriage has formed the basis of family life for thousands of years, and is the reason that the state has historically tried to encourage it.

I also recognise that not all couples who get married have children for a variety of reasons, and similarly that many children are now born outside of marriage. My concern, however, is that by moving to a definition of marriage that no longer requires sexual difference, we will, over time, ultimately decouple the definition of marriage from family life altogether. I doubt that this change will be immediate. It will be gradual, as perceptions of what marriage is and is for shift. But we can already see the foundations for this shift in the debate about same-sex marriage. Those who argue for a change in the law do so by saying that surely marriage is just about love between two people and so is of nobody else’s business. Once the concept of marriage has become established in social consciousness as an entirely private matter about love and commitment alone, without any link to family, I fear that it will accelerate changes already occurring that makes family life more unstable. (I should add, that I also suspect it will make marriage ultimately seem irrelevant. After all, how long before gay people begin to say, as many straight couples of my own generation have begun to say, “if marriage is just about love, why would I need a piece of paper to prove it?”). [...]

The argument in favour of same-sex marriage has mostly centred on rights. But this isn’t the only liberal philosophical perspective on the legislation. The more I considered this bill the more I was unsure about the state’s role. If an important reason for marriage is that it is a space for having and raising children, I can see the relevance for the state being involved in regulating it and encouraging stability for the good of society and for children’s welfare. Similarly, if there is a need for protection of rights to property and rights to make decisions, there are good reasons for the state to provide regulation. But neither of these things is what this legislation is trying to do. In this case, the state is regulating love and commitment alone, between consenting adults, without purpose to anything else. That feels curious to me, as I would normally consider that very much a private matter.

Protect the Pope comment: Sarah Teather MP has been courageous on two counts: First, she voted against same-sex marriage as a Lib Dem MP; second, she admitted that one of the reasons why she voted to defend marriage was due to her being a committed Catholic. As a consequence of her action and her honesty she has become a hate figure among many homosexuals, even though she has campaigned for them in the past.

Our thanks to Sarah Teather and the other Catholics who had the courage to vote against same-sex marriage. Hopefully those Catholics who voted for same-sex marriage will follow your example at the next vote.

Go on to the Pink News website and read the anti-Catholic comments to see the degree of irrational hate for us out there


25 comments to Catholic Sarah Teather MP puts defending marriage before career in same-sex marriage vote

  • Christopher

    Dear Deacon Nick,

    She voted for Civil Partnerships, this should then be viewed at least as something redeeming. That said, one is actually surprised to see and hear about a Catholic in a Liberal Democrat Party! What!

    Let’s hope the Lords crushes this Bill once and for all.

    God Bless.

  • Rifleman819

    Deacon Nick ,

    Well done her!

    She has reached her testing “Thomas More” moment……..and passed.
    Her reward?

    Probably political and personal hell as the Gay Lobby will launch attack after vindictive ,spiteful, vengeful attack upon her.

    The next paradigm shift I think that will happen will be when NSS/BHA/Stonewall/Terence Higgins Trust etc chances its Equality arm with a foray into the Diversity encampments marked “British Islam”…over an issue of either/or gay marriage or state- funded Islamic schools.
    And that one will end in violence without a doubt.

  • ms Catholic state

    Now who’s hating who! Disgraceful. Let’s hope she gets all the protection and support she needs from her fellow MPs. She puts so many Catholics to shame with her honesty, faithfulness and courage.


    I’ll give “Pink News” a miss, if you don’t mind.

    I’m glad that Sarah Teather has given her reasons for her vote. It’s a stark contrast with my own MP. I wrote to him last week asking him to vote against this bill, and giving some reasons. I haven’t had a reply; in truth I didn’t expect one and I don’t think it reasonable to expect an immediate reply, in any case. But I thought it worth writing to him, he having been cited online as having given conflicting assurances about his voting intentions.

    On hearing that he had voted in favour I wrote to him again, late on the day of the vote, expressing my regret and my interest in knowing his reasons. I made the mistake of leaving off my address, and this time I *did* get an immediate reply – demanding my full address (including my postcode!) as a condition for further response. “Members of Parliament are only able to deal with enquiries from their own constituents,” apparently. I think that’s very poor.

    Who is this delegate of the people who guards the secrets of his heart so fiercely? Step forward, Mark Hendrick, MP!


    I think Sarah Teather’s reasons are quite good, by the way, and quite well expressed; in particular, the business of establishing the concept of marriage in social consciousness as an entirely private matter.

    None of her reasoning is dependent on her being Catholic; the only reference to the Faith in what you quote is “as a Catholic and a liberal”. And yet those who hate the church are having a go at her? Is that what you call a sore winner?

    Still, it’s a shame that these arguments didn’t occur to her when civil partnerships (“which will never lead to homosexual marriage; you’re just scaremongering”) were being introduced.

  • Pravin Thevathasan

    On this occasion, Sarah Teather has done well.However, we now know that civil partnerships were introduced to soften the public into accepting “gay marriage.”

  • Mike2

    Congratulations to Sarah Teather. She must be finding it very difficult just now not only dealing with vitriol from the homosexual lobby but also from comments from people in her own party. (Remember that these are the Anything-But-Liberal Party.) In September 2012, Sarah Teather was generously given the opportunity to spend more time defending her marginal constituency by being sacked from the Government. (The official reason for her sacking was so that she could devote her time to defending her seat.) In Feb 2012, Sarah Teather voted to defend marriage from being undermined by the Government. I wonder if these two events might have been related in some way. (ie. Some people in the Lib Dems could see what Sarah Teather might do in the vote on the Marriage (Redefinition) Bill and decided that she was no longer worthy of a place in the Government.) A Catholic in a senior position in the Lib Dems is not much more common than a Catholic in a senior position in the Orange Order. And remember that the Lib Dem MEPs were not at all keen on the appointment of a Catholic politician from Malta as a European Commissioner. And when they were in opposition during the Labour Government they did all they could to undermine Catholic schools.

  • Dr Mark Thorne

    Thank you, Deacon Nick, for featuring a post on Ms Sarah Teather MP’s decision to vote against the legislation for same-sex marriage. If there were arguably a “metanoia” or conversion experience that took place on Tuesday evening, it was hers. When I saw that four Liberal Democrats had voted against the legislation, it was four more than I would have predicted IP must admit, and would have thought it totally unlikely that Ms. Teather would have been numbered among them and with the approximately 40% of Catholic MPs who, it has transpired, did vote against the legislation. I think she defends her decision on this very well too.

    I mentioned in a previous post that I was looking for Ms Teather’s Twitter page yesterday afternoon, but since early Wednesday morning it had been closed down, no doubt in view of all the vitriol that must have been directed at her; in fact, it was so bad that, come the evening, another Sarah Teather on Twitter who isn’t the MP was receiving hate messages in her stead.

    Well, in the admittedly unlikely event that you ever read the Protect the Pope website, Ms. Teather (the MP, that is), may I offer you my thanks for your courage in choosing to follow your convictions and conscience on this issue, and for recognising and supporting the stability and the integrity of the family. Kind regards, and God bless you.

    Let us pray that the Holy Spirit can inspire some of the 60% of Catholic MPs, and plenty of other Christian MPs besides, who did not examine their consciences so minutely as you to join you in choosing the right when the third reading of the Bill takes place in Parliament.

  • Rifleman819

    Dear All,

    What if Sarah Teather had been “Sara Ahmed”, MP?

    I wonder whether the Pink News Network would have been quite so close up and vitriolic?

    I think not somehow.

  • El Nino

    I’m afraid this is one of the worst article you have ever written, Nick.

    I live in Acton, south of Harlesden, and my sister went to school in the constituency.

    Let’s take a look at the constituency, whose boundaries will, of course, remain unchanged in the next election.

    Kensal Green lies at the southeast of the seat, neighbouring Stonebridge and Harlesden, which have a high concentration of black residents and severe deprivation. The southwest corner is dominated by the Park Royal industrial estate, the largest in Europe. To the west is the new Wembley Stadium, while the north reaches to the small sublocality of Welsh Harp and rest of Dollis Hill. Other than Harlesden and Stonebridge areas with prominence in the Index of Multiple Deprivation are in smallest areas (Output Areas of censuses) within Willesden Green and Neasden, which has Britain’s largest Hindu temple. Although there is a mixed income established Asian minority, the proportion of the borough’s residents who describe themselves as of Asian ethnicity is only the fourth highest in London, the highest proportion of Asian backgrounds is in the London Borough of Newham. The proportion of social housing and rented housing is close to the average of Greater London; this increased by 66% in the ten years to 2011 to 30%.

    To be completely crude about it, it full of ethnic minorities.

    Now, what result happened in the last election?

    Sarah Teather Liberal Democrat 20,026 44.2 +13.1
    Dawn Butler Labour 18,681 41.2 -8.9
    Sachin Rajput Conservative 5,068 11.2 -1.9
    Shahrar Ali Green 668 1.5 -2.2
    Errol Williams Christian Party 488 1.1 +1.1
    Abdi Duale Respect-Unity Coalition 230 0.5 +0.5
    Dean McCastree Independent 163 0.4 +0.4

    Majority 1,345 3.0

    Turnout 45,324 61.2 +5.7

    Conclusion? As has been pointed out in other comments she was all for gay rights until, quite obviously, the ethnic minorities showed they would blow her majority away on this issue alone. This is why she “re-discovered” her Catholicism.

    Nick, she is simply using us as cover for a base political calculation.

    • With a majority of less than 1500 and the liberal democrats polling … she knows that at the next election she will probably be out anyway? She was sacked as a Minister at the end of last year by Cameron for no particular reason … other than coalition tit-for-tat musical chair games … I expect that probably she’s just got the hump.

  • Robert

    Sarah Teather deserves our thanks as do all the other MPs who stood up for marriage. I am only disappointed that our MP, Gloria de Piero, who is supposedly a Catholic voted in favour. I hope the Catholic press will name and shame not just prominent MPs but also those who hide on the back benches. I note incidentally that already some of the more liberal C of E clergy are breaking ranks and proposing to hold pseudo marriages, that needs to be nipped in the bud by the Anglican bishops.

  • Genty

    If anyone wondered why Catholic clergy rolled over at the Reformation, here’s the 21st century equivalent of Christian MPs managing to convince themselves that wrong is right on. Sarah Teather’s decision took a great deal of courage. Reputedly devout and high-profile Catholic, IDS, take note.

  • billy pips

    Didn’t Teather support the legislation until the vote, even acting as a cheer-leader for the homosexual rights and SSM cause? I rather think so (see news websites, such as the Telegraph). I’m glad she’s demonstrated she’s actually got something approximating a conscience, but considering the massive damage she’s already enabled, indeed promoted to the institution of marriage and to the Church, I rather suspect she shouldn’t be absolved so readily. In fact I think her actions lack any virtue at all – once certain her vote was of no significance, because her campaigning for SSM ensured that to be the case, she could easily vote against it. It no longer mattered and she could be confident her ‘No’ vote would be lost in the ‘Yes’ campaigns euphoria. What a spineless human; cut of the same cloth as Blair. Shame on her.

  • Haslam

    The thing that impresses me the most is the clarity and honesty of her statement as reproduced above. She manages to set out her oposition in a calm measured and clear way that can be followed by everyone, both those who agree with her and those who disagree.

    Compare that with the hysteria, name-calling, witch-hunting, tribalism, character assasination, exageration, paranoid claims, and fantasies about overthrowing the state made by other opponents of SSM (inlcuing, some of the posters here I am afriad) and the name-calling, outings and insults which are thrown back in return by supporters and dispair.

    Sarah Teather comes across as thoughtful and civilised and for those reasons alone I am sure she will continue to have a successful poilical career.

  • Stephen Whitaker

    Rifleman can you provide any example of statements and actions against gays and lesbians made by people of the Islamic faith that have gone unchallenged by the ‘Gay Lobby’?

    I think not somehow.

    • Rifleman819

      Stephen ,

      Can you provide me with any actions by the ‘Gay Lobby’ such as disrupting Friday prayers at the Central London Mosque, as you have done at Westminster Cathedral?

      I think not somehow

      • ms Catholic state

        Well said Rifleman. The target as always is Catholicism…..for good reason.

        • Rifleman819

          ms Catholic state,

          Thank you!

          I for one will be watching very eagerly to see the actions of the NSS/BHA/Stonewall etc over the coming occasion when (not if) a Muslim part state -funded school is proposed anywhere in the UK.

          I would be very surprised if this coterie would launch an equivalent campaign against Islamic schools like the failed one versus Catholic schools in the LB Richmond…up to and including the High Court.

          It will be fascinating to see Equality meeting Diversity and measuring the consequent street fall-out.

          But Terry Sanderson and his chum Keith Porteous-Wood have backed themselves into a corner, haven’t they?

          They may either take on Muslim parents and sympathisers over this issue and whatever that may entail …or they lose whatever credibility they might have had if they don’t.

          And their hypocrisy will then be evident-won’t it?

  • ms Catholic state

    Have a look at this! The militants are out for Sarah. And it seems it’s just to painful for militant atheists to admit that Brent’s immigrants on the whole are socially conservative and just might not want gay ‘marriage.

  • Simon

    Certainly a good MP but where is the evidence that she is a ‘hate figure among many homosexuals’? Specific evidence appreciated. Thank you.

    • The link given by ms Catholic state above shows some of the unpleasantness. I have the impression, from watching “Question Time” last night, that some supporting the winning side are in little mood to be magnanimous in victory!

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