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Brian Paddick: My marriage is ‘downgraded’ in Britain

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  1. So, originally, he was happy with his marriage to a woman that was based on a lie and contrary to his nature having greater standing/importance/recognition than his union with the man with whom his relationship was based on full truth and within his nature?

    I honestly don’t understand how some people’s minds work?

  2. HelenWilson 22 Sep 2010, 5:27pm

    Ben Summerskill is part of the machinery that keeps your marriage downgraded as a second best civil partnership Brian Paddick.

    We must ask the question why does Stonewall still employ him if they support full LGBT equality?

    You can get no half measures when it comes to equality!

  3. Thank you, Brian Paddick, for this excellent contribution to this debate. Yes, there is no doubt that if we are to be thought of as equal then we must be entitled to exactly the same institutions as heterosexuals.

    Oh, but I can hear all the religious people I know, particularly the older heterosexuals, just dying inside at the thought that we queers may be allowed to marry as if we were just as good as them! They think it is fine for us to be turned away from B&Bs and hotels, so they naturally think it is fine for us to be offered some paltry “queers’ form” of “marriage” and not the real thing.

  4. Thank you Brian! Now can we have a proper cohesive campaign please…

  5. somebody mentioned the pension thing yesterday but I didn’t really understand, so straights doing CPs rather than marriages would mean a reduction in the pension burden rather than the other way around which is what Summerskill suggested. I don’t buy the platonic friends thing, there is no way you are going to do a CP or marriage just for the pension benefit and be stuck with a messy divorce to get out of it…

  6. Nice article, and I almost fully agree with him until he says

    ““Yes, we have to be sensitive to religions and what they feel on this issue”

    Why on earth should anyone care what a religion’s opinion on CIVIL marriage is. It has NOTHING to do with them.

    Just as a religion is not obliged to marry a straight couple (try being straight and divorced and getting married in a catholic churxh for example) neither will they be obliged to marry a gay couple.

    Interestingly the homophobic Stonewall organisation wants churches to be allowed perform civil partnerships, while at the same time they are undermining efforts to introduce civil marriage equality.

  7. Well, you know how religions show so much sensitivity to the needs and feelings of LGBT folk on the issue of marriage equality in this country. It’s only fair to show them the sensitivity they show to us don’t you agree.

    It’s quite right that the religious view of civil marriage equality is entirely irrelevant. Churches can choose who they will or won’t marry now and that would not change with civil marrtiage equality.

  8. “Why on earth should anyone care what a religion’s opinion on CIVIL marriage is. It has NOTHING to do with them”

    Absolutely right. No-one asks religions to grant permission for divorcees to re-marry in a civil marriage, do they? But apparently they should have a say regarding gay people marrying in a civil marriage. No, they shouldn’t. They can believe what they like and they’re entitled to that belief, but CIVIL matters are none of their business.

    I agree with Brian that the ‘downgrading’ of foreign same sex marriages to CPs in the UK is offensive – and it’s also discriminatory. They don’t ‘downgrade’ straight people’s foreign marriages, do they?

  9. im all with him till the religion part… lib dems past and present keep saying this. its CIVIL!!!!!!!!!! religion need not apply.

    but yea our recognition of marriage sucks, my bf is canadian and when we get married it wont even be recognised:(

  10. Celso F Lopez 22 Sep 2010, 10:15pm

    Thank the world for Pink News. Thank you for airing some wet cloths, they were strating to smell…

  11. Same here Brian. My partner and I had considered a Civil Partnership. However as my family are in Canada we decided to have a Civil Marriage there in 2009. I find it so degrading that my civil marriage is not recognised as such here.

  12. Brian Paddick 22 Sep 2010, 11:35pm

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we should allow religious objections to prevent gay marriage equality. What I am saying is that they should not be legally forced to conduct gay weddings on their premises (in churches, synagogues, temples or whatever). I think there will be plenty of clergy who will want to do it anyway!

  13. Thank you so much Brian for being so forthright in your opinion and belief, it’s a very brave and courageous thing that you have done by being so public and open

  14. @12:
    I think you are right Brian, no church is forced to marry any couple presently and that would not change with civil marriage equality, no church would be forced to conduct same sex marriages against their will.
    However there are same sex couples who would like to have a church wedding and there are churches that would happily provide religious marriages for same sex couples … religious freedom should allow them to do this when marriage equality is introduced.
    Religious freedom is not just for heterosexual religious folk is it?
    Giving consideration to religious objections is a red herring, civil marriage equality won’t affect the church nor will it prevent an individual person of faith from freely worshipping as they choose.

  15. We require civil marriage equality throughout the EU.
    Although Norway where Brian & his partner got married is not an EU country, the story of their treatment in coming to live in UK shows how a same sex couple’s status can change if they move or as they travel… unthinkable for a heterosexual married couple to be subjected to such degrading humiliation and uncertainty.

  16. Tim Hopkins 23 Sep 2010, 8:32am

    Brian is quite right (in comment 12 as well as the main article). We’re campaigning for marriage equality, not just civil marriage.

    In other words, those religious groups (Quakers, Unitarians, MCC, Pagans, etc) and in Scotland Humanists, who are authorised to conduct legal marriages, and want to conduct same-sex ones, will be able to do so.

    Those religious groups that don’t want to (Roman Catholic Church, etc) won’t have to.

    That’s religious freedom. Allowing religious organisations that want to, to conduct same-sex marriages, is also an example of something the Pope said he wants, on his visit last week – letting churches operate in the public sphere!

    By the way, the Equality Network operates an equal marriage campaign email list – focussed on the campaign in Scotland, but with wider marriage information too. It you’d like to join it, email me on tim at

  17. our problem was the our British CP was downgraded to nothing when we went to France. The consequence of this was that we had no rights whatsoever, despite France have their own same sex partnership. In fact they had already fiscally recognised gay marriages for some time despite not having gay marriages themselves.

    And I know it’s not my position to defend straights (perhaps echoing Ben Summerskill view !!) but actually the French CP is open to straights and becuase we don’t recognise them here they have no rights when they come to the UK. They he to first get divorced in France and be forced to get married over here. No exactly in the spirit of free movement…

    By the way PN’s vers of Stonewall is over in France and Stonewall do not come across very well!

  18. Old ladys gin 23 Sep 2010, 11:05am

    I was just reading that Uruguay, a small country of a few million but obviously without small minds, has gender neutral partnerships and marriage.
    Makes you wonder a bit!

  19. sussex woman 23 Sep 2010, 11:26am

    John said he didn’t understand the pensions issue. In a marriage, one partner accrues pension rights through their career for example, say, from when they began work in 1975 to when they finish in, say, 2015. When that person dies, their spouse gets half their pension as ‘survivorship rights’ So it’s 40 years of pension but halved for the survivor.

    When same sex partners won the right to ‘equal pension rights’, it was recognised that this would place a big burden on the pension providers, so a cut off date was agreed, 5th April 1988.

    So a same sex couple in a CP in the same situation as above will be affected by this. The person with the pension will still get their 40 years’ worth, but the survivor will not get half anymore, because they will lose the right to the pension for the years prior to 5/4/88, in our example 13 years out of the 40 years. So if the pension’s worth £20,000 pa, the married survivor would get £10,000 pa but the CP survivor will lose 13 years and get only £6,750. If the surviving partner lives 10 years after the pensioned partner’s death, they’ll be £32,500 worse off than the surviving spouse in the marriage.

    This is what can therefore happen to a trans person and their spouse when they annul their marriage to get gender recognition and then go into a CP, and the non-trans spouse can lose this amount, even though, if they’d stayed married, it would have been provided for. Pension scheme provisions do vary however, but this is the issue that’s at stake. And although their relationship will be redefined as same sex, the partners may not necessarily identify as gay or lesbian; for example, a wife who stays in a relationship with her trans spouse despite the change of gender to a woman does not stay with her because she’s become a lesbian overnight, but because, among other factors, she loves her. She might regard herself as heterosexual, but end up in a same sex relationship and even, for some purposes, be legally defined as a lesbian. Crazy world eh?

    Of course, the pension issue only affects people who started to accrue pension rights before April 1988 (ie no one born after about 1972), but they’re the people with the least time to make up for the shortfall.

    The Stonewall argument might be that this differential would have to be removed for same sex couples upgrading to marriage (££££s cost to pension providers, not the state), and that straight couples might pile into CPs rather than marriage and win rights that they don’t have as co-habitees (££££s cost to pension providers, not the state) (and maybe get state pension rights too – £££s cost to the state) but they could of course get these now if they decided to marry. The might also be an argument for making CP survivors’ pensions equal to survivor spouses’ pensions (more ££££s) but that’s not so clear once both straight and same sex couples have access to CPs, since it would no longer look like discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, but be a straight (no pun intended!) choice for anyone to enter marriage or a CP as they wish.

    Of course, finance is only one aspect of why people enter into marriage or CPs and I tend towards the romantic myself. Long live marriage.

  20. To downgrade is to reduce in status, to belittle and to underrate.

    Civil Partnership status was always a slap in the face . . . We are supposed to be civil and willing acknowledge our place as second class citizens.

    When Brian reports feeling downgraded in the UK, this is because our second class citizenship was enshrined institutionally when we were denied full marriage status.

    Denial of full marriage status was a political, social and symbolic act

  21. I agree that no religion should be forced to marry same sex couples, but I think that very idea is a scare story put around by a few fundies. Logically, it’ll never happen. Churches etc already choose who they marry according to their own beliefs.

    Thank you for the clarification, Brian. I see what you meant now. I suppose I just think that even mentioning religion in the same breath as equal civil marriage fans the flames of scare-mongering stories that some people swallow without thought. It also implies that religions are part of our law-making process, and that’s simply not true. Some commenters on Pink News confuse religious and civil marriage, and many members of the public do too. Personally, I’d like the two kept separate with the focus on civil marriage, and any question about religious freedom ‘ignored’ (not in a rude way) until it’s mentioned, then it could be briefly answered in an aside, and the discussion moved back to civil marriage, hopefully underlining their difference.

    P.S – Are Canadians especially attractive? :D My girlfriend’s Canadian too. I love the fact that we could marry in Canada, but hate the fact our marriage would automatically be downgraded if we lived in the UK.

  22. Thank you very much for that clear explanation, sussex woman.

  23. Mihangel apYrs 23 Sep 2010, 1:17pm

    I would add to sussex woman’s beautifully laid out explanation that CP wasn’t available at that timen that that compromise was made. Since then CP (ie what our politicians and judges say is equal to marriage)has come along, and logically CPs ought to have teh same rights as marrieds, but that has yet to be fought for.

  24. Excellent, Brian Paddick, you summed it up nicely. Now the Liberal Democrats and Labour need to make it quite clear that same-sex civil marriage equality in ten countries thus far is gender neutral and does not compel any religion to recognise or perform them. That has to be emphasised over and over. Its the red herring that’s used in America to thwart marriage equality and the dumb electorate there falls for it.

    The fact that there is a significant discrepancy in the distribution of pensions is proof enough that CPs are NOT identical to marriage. That alone is discrimination and its not equal.

    Mihangel apYrs, the reason why politicians, mainly Cameron, and judges say CPs are equal to marriage can all be attributed to Ben Summerskill who still believes they are and thinks they are sufficient just as their supporters do some of whom post on here. That’s who they listen to and take their cues from. Its time for him to go and StonewallUK altogether if its not supporting full equality. Those of us who want civil marriage equality but don’t want to form a CP dont exactly push to ban CPs do we? So StonewallUK should declare full support and include it in its campaign even if Summerskill and his ilk don’t personally want it. Since it refuses to do it and wastes an inordinate amount of time fighting for religious denominations to recognise CPs, then who needs them? Its fast becoming irrelevant to our needs. Civil marriage has nothing to do with religion and I could care less if any religion wants to recognise a same-sex marriage or not. Its irrelevant. Who really cares? Its a waste of time and effort and unimportant.

  25. Daniel, Portugal 23 Sep 2010, 2:48pm

    I don’t even know how the UK gone for the CP option at the time with Labour in Government! I hope Brian and other lobby the Government for FULL CIVIL MARRIAGE EQUALITY.

  26. Tim Hopkins 23 Sep 2010, 3:26pm

    Sussex woman’s comment was very helpful, but there is a complication. The origin of the pension discrimination is actually that survivor’s pensions for married people discriminate between the wife and husband.

    If the husband dies first, his wife gets a survivor’s pension based on her husband’s pension contributions since 1978.

    If the wife dies first, her husband gets a survivor’s pension based on his wife’s pension contributions only since 1988.

    In other words, male widowers get a worse deal than female widows.

    When CPs were on the way to being introduced in 2005, the UK Govt originally wanted to make the corresponding date for CPs 2005. After a big campaign, they agreed to make it 1988. So a surviving CP does as well as a male widower, but less well than a female widow.

    You can see that it would have been difficult to make the date for CPs 1978, while leaving the date for surviving widowers at 1988, because CPs would then do better than widowers.

    Of course the date should be 1978 for everyone, which would be equality.

  27. Mihangel apYrs 23 Sep 2010, 11:30pm

    the difference is that men HAD to contribute throughout their career, women didin’t have to contribute until after 1988

  28. Tim Hopkins 24 Sep 2010, 9:27am

    Michael I didn’t know that, but I’m sure that some women did contribute to their pension before 1988. And so equality would require the cut-off date for the survivor’s pension their widower gets to be set the same as for widows, at 1978.

    Of course the reason that is not likely to happen is that there are millions of husbands who might outlive their wives and then be entitled to a bigger pension. I imagine the cost of that to the Treasury would be far bigger than the pension costs involved in introducing mixed-sex CPs.

    On the latter, my view is that the current and previous UK Govts hold that marriage is a good thing. When the numbers of marriages go up, as they did last year, the Govt cheers. They don’t complain that it’s going to cost more in pension payments. The state regards marriages as having advantages that balance out the pension costs. Exactly the same should apply to mixed-sex CPs.

    No-one knows whether, or how much, the introduction of mixed-sex CPs would increase the number of mixed-sex couples registering a marriage or CP. But according to the Govt’s view on the value of marriage, stable families, people taking responsibility for each other, etc, any increase ought to be welcome.

  29. Mihangel apYrs 24 Sep 2010, 10:20am

    when I joined my organisation in 1976 ALL men, regardless of marital status, had to contribute 1.5% of salary to “widows and orphans”, NO women could.

    If were married my widow would receive a pension based on that date, my CP “widower” would lose 12 years contribution. So effectively my contribution for 12 years is ignored (it will be returned when I retire, possibly witha marginal interest); this is Paddick’s case as well.

    If CP is as good as marriage, my survivor is as good as a widow, and my contributions certainly are! That is what needs to be legally recognised, and I’m pressing Union to make the case

  30. pensions – wasn’t there an EU case against the German govt about pensions and how same sex couples shoudl be paid the same as straight couples. Maruko or something… I can’t see how 2 blokes who have contributed for the same period should default to the lesser pension benefit of a straight husband’s one,if I understood that one…

  31. religion – haven’t we dealt with this one already by saying that CPs can have relgious aspects if there is anybody willing to do that – what’s the difference between this and allowing relgious marriages if anybody is willing to do them?

  32. Tim Hopkins 24 Sep 2010, 5:00pm

    Sorry Mihangel, just realised I got your name wrong in my earlier comment!

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