miss_s_b: (Who: Six (ot3))
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Dear media people,

I see that, thanks to Cathy Newman's interview last night, the thorny theological topic of Sin has raised its ugly head once more.

Let me get this right out in the beginning: I don't give a fig what Tim Farron's religious beliefs are. You know why? Because I am a Liberal. He could believe the sky is made from Puff the Magic Dragon's bumfluff, and I wouldn't care one jot, whit or iota. What I do care about, and care deeply about, is
  1. How Tim Farron votes in parliament

  2. How he treats people - LGBT+ people in particular - in everyday life
So lets do a little list of things which illustrate how Tim Farron views LGBT people:
  1. With one exception, Tim Farron voted fully in favour of same sex marriage. The one time he abstained? That was because he was trying to get an amendment passed on the Spousal Veto, a really nasty little clause which shafts trans people. Yep, that's right, even the time he abstained was because he was fighting for LGBT+ rights, not against them.

  2. He was the first party leader to issue a statement on the gay concentration camps in Chechenya. He condemned them in the strongest terms. And while the Greens have since joined in, none of the Tories, Labour, or UKIP have.

  3. He campaigned against section 28 from its inception, and thinks that refusing people service for their sexuality (like bakeries not baking cakes for gay marriages) is unchristian.

  4. He spoke out on the blood donation ban (I'm still banned from giving blood, by the way - because I have had sexual relations with bisexual men).

  5. He has campaigned tirelessly for the rights of trans women in prisons, and trans issues in general. When we had a trans rights motion before conference, he was there at 9.30am in the front row to vote for it. Not because of the cameras - there were no cameras - but because he is enthusiastic about LGBT+ rights, and not just G rights with a smattering of L like many politicians.

  6. When Lib Dem conference brought in an accreditation scheme that inadvertently discriminated against LGBT+ people, he listened to us at LGBT+LDs, and then he went to head office and batted for us till the scheme was changed, and eventually dropped.

  7. He has said to me personally that when poly marriage is made legal he wants to be the first on the invite list to our wedding.
Look, I could go on for hours here, but it is as plain as the nose on my face that Tim Farron is no homophobe. So why do the media keep treating him like he is? Well, in the past, he has made some missteps - accepting that intern from the gay cure people, for example. But if you actually look at what happened in that case? The second he confirmed those people were campaigners for a gay cure, he backed away, apologised fulsomely, and campaigned hard against the concept of curing gay people. Me, personally? I value a leader who will listen and change his mind when someone points out he's wrong - Cthulhu alone knows Cleggy never did.

The other reason is possibly a conflation of the word "sin" with the concept of "bad thing for which I am judging you" in general parlance.

Reverend Lovejoy delineates what sin is

I'm an atheist. Yes, I have A-level RE, but I do not know Christianity from the inside. However, even I have heard of the Christian concept of "judge not lest ye be judged". As Tom King says at some length in this twitter thread, the Christian belief means that you explicitly do not condemn people who sin, because we are all sinners and judging people is God's job. Whether or not Tim Farron believes that homosexual sex (or heterosexual sex, or wanking, or eating beef on Fridays, or anything) is sinful, this has no bearing on his actions because it is not his place to judge.

I don't pretend to understand that belief system. But I accept it, just as I accept Islam, and paganism, and the church of the flying spaghetti monster. I accept it because to not accept that people can differ in their beliefs from you and yet still be worthwhile people is fundamentally illiberal. I'll tell you something that is liberal, though. If a person believes in their heart of hearts that something is wrong, and yet still campaigns for the right of other people to do it because it's other people's right to make their own moral choices?

That, my friends, that is liberalism.

I await your forensic questioning of the Prime Minister on her voting record with regard to LGBT+ rights with interest.

Lots of love

Acting chair LGBT+ Lib Dems, bisexual polyamorist, and person who voted for Tim Farron to be her party leader and is happy that she did.

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 08:49 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
Thank you for writing this.

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 09:05 am (UTC)
nickbarlow: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nickbarlow
This, this and so much this. Thanks for writing it.

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 09:50 am (UTC)
nickbarlow: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nickbarlow
My link to this seems to have been RTed heavily, so apologies for any nutter commenters you have to deal with as a result....

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 10:52 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
An upside!

ETA: I commented to fanf that I was getting a lot more twitter notifications than I was used to, and he pointed me at this interesting article about reply/retweet ratio : http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/news/a54440/twitter-ratio-reply/
Edited Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 10:57 am (UTC)

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 09:06 am (UTC)
sfred: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sfred
Thank you.

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 09:10 am (UTC)
strange_complex: (Liberalism)
From: [personal profile] strange_complex
Bookmarking this...

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 09:15 am (UTC)
hollymath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hollymath
It's great to be reminded of how awesome Tim is and how articulate my friends are in the cause of showing how awesome he is.

Just a shame it has to be because so many people fundamentally misunderstand the nature of religion and politics, and assume that what Tim's religion wants is what his politics does. And assume that since he's leader his party does what he wants. And assume that we who stand up for him do so out of slavish loyalty because we're in the same party. I wish we didn't have to argue on those points. We've got so much else to do.

But I guess part of what we have to do is educate people that politics doesn't have to be a top-down imposition of views held in lockstep.
Edited Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 09:16 am (UTC)

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 09:26 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
Jennie, can you update the "only party leader to make a statement on Chechnya" bit? My friend in the Green Party has a point: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2017/04/13/green-party-condemns-atrocities-in-chechnya/

(and given what we LibDems owe the Greens for stepping aside in Richmond, we shouldn't minimise them)

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 09:29 am (UTC)
hollymath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hollymath
Yeah, he was still the first by some way, which is worth mentioning.

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 10:31 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
You are lovely, thank you.

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 09:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] badly-drawn-llama.blogspot.com
Cathy Newman is so obnoxious that it's hardly worth bothering with her BUT I asked at the time of the london elections whether she would put the same questions to sadiq khan, of course she didn't.

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 10:12 am (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle
If you're going to put the snide and knee-jerk suggesting that Sadiq Khan must be homophobic because he's Muslim despite his track record don't you think you're rather underming the work being done in this very post which invites people to look at Tim Farron's track record rather than assuming he's homophobic because he's Christian?

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 10:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] badly-drawn-llama.blogspot.com
Sorry, I wasn't meaning to imply that, I intended it as a comment on Newman's apparent hypocrisy/double-standards. Of course, it's a ludicrious question to whomever it's put.

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 10:33 am (UTC)
rhythmaning: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rhythmaning
Excellent post.

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 11:19 am (UTC)
nanila: me (Default)
From: [personal profile] nanila
*applauds* Is linkage allowed?

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 11:35 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
On the other hand, while Tim Farron has every right to his religious views, however weird they may be, if he is standing for public office the electorate has every right to take his religious views into account when deciding how to vote.

It is also not true that when he abstained in the parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage "he was trying to get an amendment passed". What happened was that the amendments had failed, so he abstained on the third reading vote of the unamended bill. Nor had the amendments only concerned the spousal veto. Farron had voted to allow registrars to refuse to carry out same-sex marriages, if they had religious objections.

Frankly, I do not believe that Farron's voting record - on same-sex marriage or on abortion - has not been influenced in the past by his religious beliefs.


Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 03:08 pm (UTC)
po8crg: A cartoon of me, wearing a panama hat (Default)
From: [personal profile] po8crg
Entirely unconnected to the above comment, I've just found this interesting story on the BBC website.

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 08:30 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle
How on earth did you lot manage to get an all-women shortlist, given they must have had to run the Rennard gauntlet?

Date: Monday, April 24th, 2017 04:44 pm (UTC)
po8crg: A cartoon of me, wearing a panama hat (Default)
From: [personal profile] po8crg
Tha answer appears to be: all seats vacated by sitting MPs in England get an all-women shortlist until we get to some acceptable percentage of women MPs (I think it's either 40% or 45%, but don't quote me on that).

It only applies in England because the Welsh and Scottish parties each have control of candidature.

Scotland applies a different set of rules, which I forget the details of.

Wales refuses to have any rules on candidates, and has one male MP and one female AM - and the AM group was 3-3 back when there were six of them, so perhaps they know what they're doing?

Date: Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 12:39 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thank you for publishing my comment.

On the liberal argument for allowing registrars to refuse to marry same-sex couples, obviously the danger is that people will also claim it's liberal to allow B and B proprietors to refuse to accommodate gay couples and so on (and perhaps to discriminate against other groups if their beliefs are wacky enough). That kind of "liberalism" would be very different from the (now) liberal consensus that underlies the Equality Act, and I think a choice needs to be made between the two. I would say you are certainly right that if people choose to be service providers then they need to provide services to everyone without discriminating.

This was apparently Tim Farron's dilemma in 2007 regarding the regulations that outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. He wanted more exemptions, and ended up voting against the regulations when he didn't get them. To his credit, he subsequently said he had changed his view on that question.

What I don't like is the portrayal of Tim Farron as a kind of LGBT rights crusader from Day One. I think his priorities clearly didn't lie in that direction earlier in his career. But he is clearly trying to compensate for that now (and perhaps sometimes to over-compensate). I just hope that his answer in the House of Commons encompassed physical relationships as well as just sexual orientation. If he's asked the "sex" question and starts hedging again it will trip him up.


Date: Tuesday, April 25th, 2017 06:13 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Well, apparently his answer in the Commons didn't, after all, encompass sex, and he did start hedging again about that question, but finally today he said gay sex isn't a sin.

That leaves me not sure what to believe about his real views on homosexuality, but in no doubt at all that his political judgment is appalling.


Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 12:58 pm (UTC)
nadriel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nadriel
May I link to this, got some acquaintances who might benefit from reading it...

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 06:08 pm (UTC)
bagfish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bagfish
Thanks for writing this Jennie, I'm having a major argument on a FB page "Women Against Tories" who are bringing up "his gay voting record" as reasons for not supporting LDs in marginals. Looks like you can only be a woman against Tories if you vote Labour :head-desk:

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 06:35 pm (UTC)
bagfish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bagfish
MISSED YOU TOO, have been blogging elsewhere recently and not logged in to Dreamwidth for AGES but saw someone reference this post and just had to grab it :)

Will check out coalition post too. Getting slightly irritated with Lib Dem hate on various anti-tory groups, talk about cutting off noses to spite faces....

And when I talk about the Iraq War they are all like you can't bring that up, Jezza didn't vote for it :whine:. Well nor did Tim vote for student loans....


Anyway, still a Green Party member, but will be vote switching this election to make sure we keep Tim in.
Edited Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 06:36 pm (UTC)

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 08:38 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle
To be fair (-ish): I actually think the Iraq war was one of the things which shaped my fear of policians with faith. That is, while (as a Labour voter) acknowledge that Tony Blair lied through his teeth about WMD and almost certainly knew he did so, I think he was one of those truly scary religious types who actually thought that lying through his teeth was the moral thing to do when the outcome was clearly God's will.

Which is why I can't find it in me to get excited about this election; we're all going to be dead because of the Christian Armageddon types who got Trump elected in the states, so it's all supremely irrelevant this side of the Pond.

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 08:44 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle
What, and have the cockroaches blame you for not stopping it?

Date: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 11:40 pm (UTC)
hollymath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hollymath
Heh, we are the cockroaches... :)

good post

Date: Thursday, April 20th, 2017 08:47 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Good post -I've been screening theyworkforyou (dot com) to see how individual MPs voted as a way of pushing past all the propaganda. Actions speak louder than words.

Gay man

Date: Thursday, April 20th, 2017 09:03 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Great letter - thanks for this, will spread far and wide......as a gay man the only reason when I was 18 yrs old to join the LDs was because of our LGBT support.....Tim is unwavering in his support - I am not a believer of any faith, agnostic if you will. I have no truck with his faith because it makes him no less liberal than me. I supported him for leader, drove him around in that campaign during which time we spoke about this and many issues.....there is no issue! I voted for him as leader and he has turned out to be an energetic and thoughtful leader. A good man. Press be damned.
Christian Martin

Date: Friday, April 21st, 2017 10:13 am (UTC)
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)
From: [personal profile] cesy
Thank you for this.

Good Work Jennie

Date: Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 08:00 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Well done for a fantastically succinct and eloquent piece, not only on why Tim Farron is a good leader on LGBT issues but also on what it means to be a liberal. I will probably be referring to some of your points when I go canvassing over the coming weeks, if required....
Ellie (a new lib dem member)
Saw your blog linked from mumsnet

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