Former MP lifts the lid on her successful campaign for same-sex marriage

Lynne Featherstone celebrates the release of her book Equal Ever After outside the House of Lords.

Lynne Featherstone celebrates the release of her book Equal Ever After outside the House of Lords. Photo: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Lynne Featherstone, former MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, didn’t waste much time after losing her seat in the Lib Dem cull of last year’s general election.

“I spent about two weeks watching TV, eating chocolate and having a little bit of alcohol,” Baroness Featherstone admits, sipping tea in the House of Lords cafeteria.

Then it was straight to work and Baroness Featherstone, a newly-appointed Lib Dem peer, started writing about her successful campaign to legalise same-sex marriage.

“This is a bit of history and I wanted to get it on the record,” the Highgate resident says.

The book tells the story of how Baroness Featherstone, an equalities minister in the Coalition, fought for gay couples to have the right to marry, as granted in 2013.

She traces her passion for LGBT rights back to her “gorgeous, gay” friends on the design course at Oxford Polytechnic and shooting a student film about life in the gay community.

In power, she pressed David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and former home secretary Theresa May to legalise gay marriage, despite it not being in either Party’s manifestos.

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“It came to mind immediately because I always thought it was an injustice,” she says.

The Church of England mounted firm objections, while Liberal and Reform Jews, Unitarians and Quakers spoke out in favour.

The Same Sex Couples Act, when introduced, said religious organisations can opt-in to marry gay couples, but would be protected from legal challenge if they did not.

Baroness Featherstone pays tribute to activists in the historical fight for equal gay rights, starting with those who fought to make homosexuality legal.

“I stand on the shoulders of giants,” she says.

Now a Lib Dem peer, Baroness Featherstone is campaigning for gay rights in Africa and continuing her work combatting female genital mutilation (FGM.)

The 64-year-old will not be contesting MP Catherine West’s seat in the 2020 general election.

“I’ve had the best run of any Lib Dem and changed the world a bit,” she says.