Indeed it is rather ironic that at this point Traditionalist Anglo-Catholic and Liberal ‘others’ share the same point of view —in the eyes of both, women’s ordination is a first-order issue, standing in the way of full cooperation with those who think otherwise.
And slightly later:
The matter is further complicated by the fact that, for Conservative Evangelicals like myself, ordination itself is not a first-order issue. Indeed, I once remarked, slightly tongue in cheek, that this was why I could happily sit down with Anglo-Catholics who have a view of priesthood and sacrament which I regard as somewhat beyond the Pale of true Anglicanism.
I think he is (partly) wrong about this, when referring to liberal positions, depending on what one regards as liberal positions.
First of all, I'm not sure that the language of first and second order is appropriate for liberals. However, I think one ought to be a little careful regarding what is liberal.
For the Affirming Catholic, often taken as liberal (but I think wrongly), ordination matters for ontology and it also matters that women are ordained too, including to the level of bishop, so that ordination reflects baptism. The same applies with gay people. Church tradition matters, on the basis that tradition is a collective but moving and changing entity according to the impact of the Holy Spirit. So it is a collective, ordered, whole tradition view, based on Church order which Anglicanism is entitled to change according to prompting by the Spirit.
For the liberal, however, ordination is functional and really amounts to a restrictive practice that might be useful from a training or quality assurance point of view. The ordination of women is therefore a sign of equality of all, and the same is true with gay people. All the language of religion is like code wording for such important 'gospel imperatives' reflecting the worth and dignity of all people. In the end, if quality can be assured, lay people can do anything a clergy person can, including presiding at the Eucharist. I remember years back some Sea of Faith people saying they were in favour of ordaining women because it had the effect of undermining patriarchy and undermining ordination itself.
The level of overlap between an Affirming Catholic and an Affirming Liberal (say, but let's extend the liberals beyond the Affirming) is quite large because the policy agreements are pretty much the same, but there is an underlining difference of philosophy.
The Affirming Catholic tolerates the liberal because the Catholic has confidence in the Eucharistic community and its order, that it should be whole and move with collective agreement. Opinions are not the same as decisions: the Affirming Cathiolic is quite disciplined when it comes to what is acceptable within worship. The liberal tolerates the Catholic in that a bit of symbolism does no harm in these postmodern image-conscious and borrowing-from-the-past times. Many a liberal likes the incomprehensibility of the Book of Common Prayer as a means of foggy mystery too, along with quality of worship performance, whereas the Affirming Catholic may use it for a repetitive reminder of older tradition and for its quality of worship.
The important difference here is seen in the extremes. For the liberal, there would be just an equalitarian Church, with training and quality levels of performance. For the Catholic, there would be ordination, but anyone can be ordained, as is the policy of some so-called Episcopi Vagantes groups (e.g. The Young Rite) where Catholic Church order is maintained.
In the end, a liberal like me is a functionalist, and we do actually overlap with some of the stances of even Conservative Evangelicals regarding Order - it's that we don't regarding belief.