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Comment: Why we must be fighting for full same sex marriage equality now

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  1. Why thank you Mr Gilbert.

    You are part of the government so your party is in the PERFECT position to ensure there is marriage equality in this country by the time of the next general election.

    Assuming gender-neutral, equal marriage actthis is supported at the party concerence, can we expect this Equal Marriage Bill to appear before parlament by 2011?

    Can we assume that you will pull out of the coaltion if the Tories refuse to accept it?

    Can we assume that you will no longer take your advice on LGBT rights from Stonewall seeing as they are clearly no longer fit for purpose when it comes to LGBT equality issues?

    If a gender-neutral, equal marriage act is NOT passed by your party conference do you accept that no LGBT person in their right mind could ever countenance voting LibDem again?

  2. Well said Stephen. But that Lib Dem motion on marriage equality needs to be amended so that it requires the government to introduce relevant legislation within a given time limit, preferably not more than 12 months.

  3. The LibDems need to be held to their promises. Everyone can agree on that.

    In the past supporting equality would have been a purely theoretical matter for the LibDems as they had no chance of influencing anything.

    Now that they are in power, they cannot use this excuse anymore.

    They say they want marriage equality.

    They are in a prime position to deliver it (and if they can achieve this then Labour can never again tell us that Labour is the only choice for LGBT people – I’d love that just to wipe the smirk off that smug, patronising charlatan David Miliband’s face. )

    If Britain does not have marriage equality by the next election then the LibDems will have to take their portion of the blame and deal with the consequences of their hypocrisy.

    As for the Tories – well the LibDems need to tell the Tories that marriage equality is non-negotiable!

    As for Stonewall – well who cares. Haven’t they disbanded yet? If not then why not?

  4. Andrew Godfrey 8 Sep 2010, 1:01pm

    Regardless of party politics, I think marriage equality is essential for LGB&T equality.

    It’s odd that the LGB&T groups of all three main parties support marriage equality, but Stonewall doesn’t. Why the silence, Stonewall?

    Steve Gilbert (along with Peter Tatchell, Ben Cohen and many others) have signed an open letter to Stonewall:
    http://whythesilencestonewall.wordpress.com/

    Facebook group: http://tinyurl.com/39adaqf

  5. The open letter to Stonewall is a good idea.

    An even better idea however. is to stop donating money to Stonewall, and to divert it to an LGBT charity which supports full equality (while letting Stonewall know why they are losing your suppport).

    Stonewall’s refusal to support full legal equality is homophobic. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

    Do not donate money to Stonewall until they support equality.

  6. OMAR KUDDUS GayasylumUK 8 Sep 2010, 1:16pm

    Would it not just be simpler to make everyone EQUAL, in the eyes of the Law, based on the fact that we are all born Equal by the mere fact that we are born Human and have the same rights, feelings and emotions as our counterpart Heterosexual fellow Human beings, especially in the “free west”.
    Discrimination has just too many forms and faces, and its time to realise just that, we are and all ways have been treated as second class citizens, by most of our governments, again in the “free west” , where homosexuality is legal.

    You however cannot have “equality” without liberty. When people are free to govern themselves and own their own personal sovereignty that person is therefore equal in the sense of humanity.

    However in reality we are not all “born equal” as many of us come from different nationalities, backgrounds, class, race, religion, upbringing etc. Many of us are born in countries where individual rights are infringes or where such rights are not recognises.

    But as stated we cannot expect for the government to “give” us equal rights. Because whatever the government can grant or give it can also take away. Rights are inalienable.

    Equality may be classified as being unachievable ,no matter how noble, however, liberty is for everybody, especially in the “free west” or countries where Homosexuality is legal an recognised.

    Marriage would be a step in the right direction, for civil partnerships that are unavailable to heterosexual couples , just further makes the LGBT community “second class” nationals.

  7. Gino Meriano 8 Sep 2010, 1:58pm

    Fully agree with you Marcus and its time for real charities and campaigners to stand up and show what has been done without commercial organisations like Stonewall and this ever increasing tick box scenario that is driving me nuts.

    Stop donating to Stonewall and let equality become a reality

  8. I’ve a suspicion that Stonewall receives substantial funding from Christian groups in the USA on condition that it holds back from supporting marriage equality.

  9. Abolish marriage for gays and straights alike. It serves no useful purpose.

  10. “Abolish marriage for gays and straights alike. It serves no useful purpose.”

    Nice theory, but utterly impractical. That will NEVER happen. And if you think it will, then I commend you for your imagination.

    And if it won’t happen then I want access to the same legal contracts as everyone else.

  11. “I’ve a suspicion that Stonewall receives substantial funding from Christian groups in the USA on condition that it holds back from supporting marriage equality. ”

    No idea whether that is true or not (and even I’d be surprised if Stonewall was that craven and depraved).

    Even if it is true, it hardly mattters any more, as Stonewall have been pushing the self-destruct button for a while and are now pretty much regarded as an irrelevant relic of a bygone time.

    Pretty much the entire LGBT population knows how useless and irrelevant Stonewall are. They are not needed. There are plenty of other groups who have not compromised their integrity in order not to lose their access to those in power.

  12. Nice impressive words, Steve, but can the current craven LibDem front bench be expected to make the neothatcherites they are keeping in power do anything about it?
    Lots of noisy libDem back benchers might just help. Good luck.

  13. Great commentary by MP Gilbert. I hope he can turn those words into legislation.

    I must correct one HUGE misstatement in his commentary. The US is most certainly NOT, in any way planning on legislating marriage. We are FAR behind England on this matter. Our ONLY hope is to win marriage equality in the courts and even that will be an uphill battle with so many Republican appointed judges at every level, especially in the extremely conservative Supreme Court.

    We couldn’t even get marriage equality to pass and stick in CALI-freakin-FORNIA! So, while he’s correct that the world is moving forward and leaving England behind, America isn’t one of the countries leaving England behind. The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave will probably be one of the very last western countries to pass full civil marriage equality nationwide.

    And I for one am ashamed of my country for that.

  14. The more StonewallUK opposes full civil marriage equality, the faster its demise and irrelevance. It does NOT speak for the majority of us either.

    Its time for Nick Clegg to take off the gloves and get down to serious business about introducing full marriage equality. Talk is cheap, action speaks louder than words. There is absolutely NO reason why it can’t be done. Cameron better pay attention if he wants to remain in power now that marriage equality is finally out in the open and being discussed by the Liberal Democrats and some Labour MPs. Not a murmur from the Tory camp, quite revealing.

    One thing Gilbert is wrong about, the U.S. is not legislating for full marriage equality. Currently, its a state issue, each of the 50 states for now must decide if they want to allow gays to marry. The Supreme Court of the U.S. would have to rule in favour of it in order for all states to allow it. That’s not happening at this moment in time. He might be confusing it with the decision in California in regard to the recent reversal of Proposition 8 which awaits a final decision in December this year, hopefully to reinstate marriage equality in that state.

  15. dave, I think your Stonewall sucks for not supporting marriage quality but it’s absolutely CRAZY to claim that the reason is because they are being supported by American Christian groups. That is the craziest conspiracy theory I’ve heard in a long time.

    You must not know anything about American Christian groups!

    They don’t support, financially or otherwise, ANY gay rights organization, regardless of their position on marriage equality, PERIOD!

    I suspect that Stonewall doesn’t publicly support marriage equality for the same reason that HRC in America is so spineless and worthless. They don’t want to miss out on wining and dining with the rich, famous and powerful and they’re waiting for the political winds to change before they jump on the bandwagon. They’ll do just like HRC and do NOTHING to cause the change but take credit for it once it’s accomplished.

  16. FULL EQUALITY?…What other kind is there?

  17. Well I hope they bring in marriage equality soon and allow us to get a marriage certificate , I asked the portugese president of the lobbying group opus a few days ago if our CP would be recognised there. I got this reply “Get married here, and forget your civil partnership.There is no legal translation of your civil act to the Portuguese law.But if you get married here you can have all de beneficts of the comun law.”

    How on earth do you “translate” the ever so British CP? There is no “transalation” required for the word “marriage”. Give us marriage and let us have the rights of married couples abroad, please!!!

  18. Agree entirely with the comments here – my partner and I want to get MARRIED. We have absolutely NO interest in having a second rate, substandard civil partnership (no matter how much gloss or window dressing that spineless organisation stonewall puts on them).

    As far as I am concerned – nothing short of Full Marriage Equality will do. Period.

  19. Simon Murphy 9 Sep 2010, 12:17am

    “but can the current craven LibDem front bench be expected to make the neothatcherites they are keeping in power do anything about it?”

    Well of course they can. They can state that marriage equality is a non-negotiable condition for remaining in the coalition.

    Will they do that?

    I’m suspicious! However their coalition with the Tories has damaged their reputation with their party. By demanding full equality they can help rescue their reputation.

    If they don’t then Labour will yet again be rightfully allowed to claim that Labour is the only party committed to equality.

  20. Simon Murphy 9 Sep 2010, 12:25am

    No 15: Hayden: you say:

    “I suspect that Stonewall doesn’t publicly support marriage equality for the same reason that HRC in America is so spineless and worthless. They don’t want to miss out on wining and dining with the rich, famous and powerful and they’re waiting for the political winds to change before they jump on the bandwagon.”

    There is 1 MAJOR difference between Stonewall and HRC.

    HRC may be spineless but at least they support the principle of equality.

    The homophobes at Stonewall refuse point blank to support equality which makes them a far more damaging organisation. especially seeing as until recentlt they were regarded as the ‘go-to’ gay rights group.

    Thankfully that is changing, and even the political parties seem to be realising that Stonewall does not represent anyone except its own small membership.

  21. I thought I read somewhere that even Hague was for gay marriage when he was the party leader of the Tories and that was years ago so why not marriage equality and why not marriage equality within this parliament under a tory/lib dem govt….With the backing of lab and they’d be a rather sad party to object then I can’t see why marriage and cp equality can’t happen soon…apart from Stonewall and some sad old peers who is objecting….

  22. “apart from Stonewall and some sad old peers who is objecting…. ”

    Stonewall, some unelected old peers and the BNP do not support marriage equality.

    Strange bedfellows indeed, that Stonewall is keeping.

    Not a penny more in donations to Stonewall!

  23. stephen golden 9 Sep 2010, 8:22pm

    I have been an out gay man all of my adult life and happily partnered for 15 years. Since coming out in 1979 I have fought for gay rights and liberation and continue to do so. However I am becoming more and more frustrated with some sections of the LGB community who think that the biggest fight we have in this country is to secure gay marriage. In my professional life I see the consequences of LGB discrimination all too often. Men and women denied access to services, employment or promotion because of the attitudes of individuals and institutions. I see the physical and emotional scars of abuse and bullying and it angers me that this is still going on after so many years of campaigning and witness by the heroes of our movement. I have always thought that being gay and different from the mainstream was a gift – one, through which I can contribute to richness of the society I live in, yet what I see now is a greater desire to assimilate, emulate and imitate the majority. Let’s face it for most adults in the UK the experience of marriage is not universally popular or full of happy ever afters, almost 50 per cent ending in divorce. I just don’t get why we are fighting to be as unhappy as the majority. There is still so much more to achieve than the so called “Gold standard” of gay marriage. As long as I have the right to chose how to live in a relationship and not be discriminated against then that is enough. Let’s deal with the distruction of young lives through the cruelty of their contemporaries in school or the bigotry of their (married) parents. Let’s honour those who have gone before by fighting for the right to feel safe when we are different. Let’s really contribute to the success of the UK by fighting for the right to be ourselves in the workplace. We seriously need to get our priorities sorted and rediscover the strength that comes from standing out, being different and being proud of who we are.

  24. Hi Stephen Golden. Why the need to prioritise? Are you saying us LGBT folk are unable to fight for more than one thing at once?

    Fighting homophobic bullying, discrimination etc. have already been announced as part of the Coalition Government’s agreed LGBT policy. We thus need to keep our eyes on what they do and work with them to achieve the goals they’ve set out (and shout at them if they wander off course).

    Marriage equality and things such as the blood donation ban are NOT on the Government’s agenda (nor, until hopefully the Lib Dems vote for it at Conference, on any parties). That’s why the focus seems to be on that at the moment. Not because people think it’s more important than anything else… but because it’s not even up for grabs right now.

    LGBT rights can’t be fought for one by one. They are intrinsically connected. How can we end homophobic bullying if we aren’t even legally equal to those with opposite sex attraction? How can we support our children and LGBT kids in schools if we are still treated as different by the Government and other authorities. We must fight for full equality, not just a quiet life with a few concessions tossed to us by the powers that be. Otherwise we’ll still be fighting for gay rights in 50 years time.

    And you might think marriage is an unhappy institution, but some of us don’t. It’s insulting that you wish to keep us down because you don’t want to get married. Very strange argument.

  25. Marraige is for opposites, CP for same!

  26. Stephen Golden – Just read this in an Australian article

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/could-this-be-the-year-of-the-modern-family-20100913-15826.html

    and as it suggests legislation in bringing about something like marriage equality in the UK may actually help remove homophoic bullying and other forms of discrimaintion – “Discrimination, however, does not end with legislative inequality – it must also involve changing our cultural attitudes.

    In this sense, it is important to recognise that the law plays an instrumental role not only in delineating rights and entitlements, but also signifying to society what is legitimate or worthwhile.”

    In his case he was talking about the adoption bill in NSW and as he adds this “.. will hopefully see a shift in social, as well as legal, stigmas attached to same-sex families”

    There is still a stigma to gay relationships as can be seen abroad and having an exclusive CP law for gays creates that stigma, creates an excuse of being outside the “norm”, inferior and this can only lead to discrimination…

    You don’t need to use the fact that you are gay to prove that you are different, special…we need to be equal in law first and from that level playing field we can fight discrimination at all levels.. without the legal equality then I’m afraid we will always be on a losing battle….

  27. Its clear that Mr Cameron and the lib/dem coalition can bring in marriage for lesbians and gays men who love men and women who love women and want a legal marriage ;if you dont want marriage or it fails you can divorce;its the principal that matters.
    The Tories can do it now;there is enough support for it…or are they ruled by the hetrosexual hate filled christians and musilems;jews etc who hate homosexulas period and they are terrified of the reaction …from those who voted them in namely the people who want witch hunts…..which will eventually back fire..?

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