Tim Farron’s less than full-hearted voting record on same-sex marriage has already come up in many comments from Liberal Democrat members thinking about who to vote for in the party leadership contest. It is one of the most frequent topics in questions directed at him on Twitter from party members despite the many times he has voted in favour of sexual equality.
In an interview with The Observer, he has tried to deal with the isse:
The frontrunner in the race to succeed Nick Clegg as leader of the Liberal Democrats has expressed regret for abstaining in a gay marriage vote during the last parliament.
Tim Farron was among nine Lib Dem MPs who abstained at third reading of the marriage bill – which was carried by 366 votes to 161 in May 2013 – despite previously voting for same-sex marriage legislation.
Farron told the Observer that his abstention did not mean he opposed equal marriage. “It is important to be very, very clear that I voted for the legalisation of equal marriage and support it, and will fight very hard against any attempts to water it down – which there might be.”
He added: “Put simply, there were a couple of amendments that were about the protection of essentially religious minorities, conscience protections, and I kind of voted for those. Me doing something like that, which is about protecting people’s right to conscience, I definitely regret it, if people have misread that and think that means I’m lukewarm on equal marriage.” Asked if he would take the same decision again, he said: “No, I would vote for equal marriage.”
UPDATE: However, Tim Farron regrets saying that he does not think gay sex is a sin.