However, that the "b" word was used in the draft of the speech is itself significant enough to warrant the very public apology that has since been made. And its significance is that, making the assumption that many of those attending the event at which the speech was to be made are supporters of an organisation called Stonewall, at least a proportion of Mr Clegg's hearers would have themselves quite happily used the "b" word in his place to describe religious leaders opposing their support of same-sex marriage.
At an annual awards ceremony, Stonewall include an award for "Bigot of the Year". It is now very difficult to find any trace of this on Stonewall's own website. The search function on the site showed up a report of the 2009 Award, but nothing more recent than that. That the award is still in existence is suggested by this spat at Pink News over the nominations for the award in 2012: Stonewall dismisses rumour Ken Livingstone was nominated for homophobe award. The last paragraph of this report states that:
Stonewall’s Bigot of the Year Award goes to the public figure who has most “gone out of their way to harm, hurt or snub lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the last year”.In practice, you can get yourself nominated by simply opposing a Stonewall supported policy. Once nominated, Stonewall members then vote on whether or not you, or another of the nominees, should be the one to get the award.
And this is where the sweetness of Mr Clegg's apology arises. When he was Archbishop of Birmingham, Rt Rev Vincent Nichols achieved a nomination as "Bigot of the Year", a nomination prompted by his very public opposition at that time to legislation with regard to adoption by same-sex couples. [Archbishop Nichols strongly opposed the Sexual Orientation regulations that forced Catholic adoption agencies to accept same-sex couples as potential parents.] Oh how sweet that the Deputy Prime Minister should now publicly apologise after implying, in an almost exactly analogous situation over same-sex marriage, that Rt Rev Vincent Nichols, now Archbishop of Westminster, might be a "b".
The terms of Mr Clegg's apology were reported in the Daily Mail I apologise for my gay marriage 'bigot' slur, says Clegg as he tries to limit fallout caused by remark (my italics added):
'Those extracts were neither written or approved by me. They do not represent my views, which is why they were subsequently withdrawn.I wonder if Stonewall supporters have clocked the significance of this apology, and of Mr Clegg's unwillingness to be associated with the use of the "b" word? Will Stonewall now offer the same apology to everyone they have called a "b" over the years of their awards ceremony, and discontinue an award that is highly offensive? And will Mr Clegg himself acknowledge the clear water that he has put between himself and some of the advocates of the LGBT agenda?
'While I am a committed advocate of equal marriage, I would never refer to people who oppose it in this way. Indeed, I know people myself who do not support equal marriage and, although I disagree with them, clearly I do not think they are bigots. Nor do I think it is acceptable they, or anyone else, are insulted in this way.