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£5 billion marriage equality figure was calculated by Stonewall

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  1. “Supporting straight people is not one of our objectives.”

    Indeed. But opposing LGBT people’s right to marry clearly is one of their objectives.

    The cost of introducing CP’s to straight people is NONE of Stonewall’s concern. So why bring it up at all?

    What Summerskill has done is has thrown this 5 billion figure into the arena, knowing full well that opponents of LGBT marriage equality will jump on it as an excuse to deny us equality.

    What was he thinking.

    “He added that it was “ludicrous” to ask at 7pm on a Friday evening whether that figure was based on an estimate of half a million straight people.”

    Oh cry me a river Summerskill. You’ve had 5 years to formulate how LGBT people can gain equality.

    Stonewall has done NOTHING to bring about marriage equality.

    Summerskill is not a suitable leader for Stonewall. He needs to go. Immediately.

    Unless Stonewall is itself opposed to marriage equality.

    In which case, be honest about it, and watch the organisation be flushed down the toilet. Which in light of recent events may be the best result all round.

    Marriage equality is not up for debate. We expect and demand it.

  2. Jesus, WTF is in the water at Stonewall? Why are they publicly offering up reasons to not to open up marriage up to gay people?? It’s sensible to identify the arguments that the right wing might used to argue against it, but to throw it out there for the narrow minded Mp’s to use against us is just madness. Incidently the religious right in California used a similar financial argument as to why gay marriage/prop 8 shouldn’t be over turned.

    Perhaps Summerskill was a sleeper agent form the religious right, planted in stonewall to destroy it from within.

  3. Any person or organisation which opposes the right of LGBT people to enter the legal contract of civil marriage based on their sexual orientation is a homophobe.

    Screw them. Do NOT donate money to Stonewall. Now that their support for homophobia is out of the bag, their corporate donors will start fleeing them also.

    Thanks Stonewall. We appreciate the work you have done in the past. You are now clearly past your sell-by date. It’s time to bow out of the LGBT Rights arena. We no longer want or need you representing us.

  4. FFS – Read their statement. Stonewall and NOT against equal marriage. Stop sh*t stirring. Anyone with any understanding of campaigning, or even a tactical business move, knows that part of your research is to find out what the possible negatives are because your opponents are likely to find out and throw them at you.

    What is Stonewall didn’t research the potential stumbling blocks and then the Christian right or House of Lords or whoever turned around and threw a load of reasons back at the pro equal marriage campaign that nobody had prepared an answer for?

    Grow up and campaign for a positive outcome and not simply to have a dig at an organisation because it is the “cool” thing to do right now

  5. The most revolting thing about Summerskill’s treachery at the Lib Dem’s conference is, that while he offered up excuses for not introducing marriage equality, Summerskill or Stonewall have NEVER offered any reasons why marriage equality should be supported.

    And through it all, no-one yet knows who Stonewall represent. Their policy making decisions remain shrouded in secrecy. Especially considering that all the feedback indicates that they do not canvas their 20,000 supporters for feedback on their agenda

  6. I’ve donated to Stonewall in the past, but certainly won’t be doing so again until they get themselves sorted on this issue.

  7. Will he come up with the answer before or after the labour party conference. Who are these “supporters” and are their thinking really in sync with the LGBT community. He’s had hundereds of comments from the LGBT in the last 2 days, wake up , you know the answer, we want marriage equality.

    I really hope this isn’t all political, are the labour party in full agreement with the lib dem policy and will they support it during this parliament? I hope the 10 yrs isn’t the 2 terms that he thinks labour won’t be in power and this is actually somekind of ploy to stop any attempt by the coalition to do what labour couldn’t do.

    Look at the CP debate in the house of lords, the govt then cleary said that since the CP was in essence the same as marriage, then, if it were made available to straights, those straight people who didn’t want to do a marriage would not want to do a CP either. If CP are made available the the numbers will only even out, some of the people who would have got married would simply do a CP instead. There isn’t a huge number of straight out there delaying getting their pension and tax rights simply in the vain hope that the govt will introduce an exact copy of the marriage….

  8. “Anyone with any understanding of campaigning, or even a tactical business move, knows that part of your research is to find out what the possible negatives are because your opponents are likely to find out and throw them at you.”

    And anyone with an uderstanding of campaigning knows that you do not do your enemies’ work for them.

    Stonewall have NEVER offered up a reason why equality should be supported.

    Yet Stonewall trot off to the LibDem conference and secretly offer up an unsubstantiated figure of 5 billion as the cost of equality (Summerskill never made a public statement about his imagined cost – and we don’t know whose agenda he is working for).

    Did they do no research into the Dutch situation. The Netherlands have marriage and CP equality. With no huge financial cost.

    In any case, it is not Stonewall’s job to worry about the financial cost of equality.)

    Equality is not a political football. They either support it or they don’t. And thanks to Summerskill’s treachery they clearly don’t.

    We do not need Stonewall.

    The LGBT Rights movement existed before Stonewall. It will survive without them.

    I do NOT want an organisation which offers up excuses why I do not deserve equality representing me.

    Especially when none of us know how they decide their agenda.

  9. “then the Christian right or House of Lords or whoever turned around and threw a load of reasons back at the pro equal marriage campaign that nobody had prepared an answer for?”

    But isn’t that what Stonewall should have been doing? Having solid, reasonable, well-researched responses to the accusations that our enemies would throw at us?

    They’ve had 5 years to formulate a response as to why equality would work.

    Wh haven’t they published their research into the Dutch model?

    Or have they not bothered doing this research?

    And why do they operate under a total lack of transparency when it comes to their policy agenda. That is the most sinister aspect in my view.

  10. Well, well, well … so the 5bn figure did not come from an assessment done by the last government at all, it was dreamed up by Stonewall; Why? The answer can only be in order to try to de-rail the push for marriage equality. Up to that point only positive things were being said (saving his “holiness” the Pope) and a concensus seemed to be building for a change.

    Why Mr Summerskill should wish to do this we can only speculate. Is he a friend of gay people? Perhaps he has other, closer friends.

  11. Sarah Brown 24 Sep 2010, 10:11pm

    If Stonewall spin any faster, they could double as a centrifuge!

  12. “He added that it was “ludicrous” to ask at 7pm on a Friday evening whether that figure was based on an estimate of half a million straight people”

    Stonewall was the author of this ludicrous “estimate” which Summerskill chose to bring out at the Lib Dem meeting. I would have thought he would have familiarised himself with it sufficiently to know how it was calculated.

    They apparently haven’t formulated an opinion and yet they have been calculating reasons against marriage ….

  13. Stonewall has impeded equality for LBGT folk before and they are doing it again, they are trying to spin doctor their way out of a mess that summerskill created, this is the third story as the first two vanished
    Stonewall are helping the homophobes

  14. unfortunately stonewall is betraying those who it claims to aid

  15. HelenWilson 24 Sep 2010, 11:58pm

    I call for LGBT Labour to bar Stonewall from its conference events.

    Clearly they can not be trusted to represent the interests of LGB people, so whatever they say is unreliable.

  16. Mike Savant 25 Sep 2010, 12:19am

    There is nothing new in this disclosure. What is new is why this figure was used tactically at the Lib Dem meeting… presumably to cause the mayhem of the past week? Or to scupper the Lib/Con from progressing too quickly on a purely political platform that would see Stonewall sidelined. Additional scenarios 1: Tories do not see Stonewall as significant in future discussion on Gay Marriage and hence the reticence of Stonewall to produce a policy which it cannot deliver on. It effectively has no power within Govt. and thus must make mischief. 2: Stonewall does not want a Gay Marriage success delivered within the lifetime of the current Govt, favouring its old New Labour posse. Thus must create mischief. But it looks like the lions of change will have their day.

  17. I am totally astounded by Stonewalls total disregard to others and its failure to consult with other interested parties on the subject of marriage equality.

    It is clear civil marriage would bring a great benefit to many transsexuals, who are currently forced by government legislation to ether get divorced so they can gain a new birth certificate in their new gender or to maintain their marriage and to live in a legal sense in the wrong gender causing them great distress.

    Equality is for all or none, ignoring it as Stonewall are clearly doing is just not an option.

  18. Craig Nelson 25 Sep 2010, 12:34am

    We still, I’m afraid, haven’t got to the bottom of the alleged £500m (per year which is how most things are calculated) that opening CP’s to straights, assuming that unmarried couples who already can marry engage in CP’s where they would otherwise stay unmarried.

    I genuinely do not know where the costs come from and would like to be more informed as to what actual factors are in play here and waht assumptions the analysis is based on. I think that public sector pension schemes might be one source of costs to the Government, although the Local Government scheme is a funded scheme and in any case members of the scheme have contributed to the same degree as other scheme members and should be entitled to the same benefits. Obviously there’s some loss in terms of inheritance tax, though I’d have thought if inheritance tax was an issue you’d marry. Similarly with property transfers and Capital Gains Tax.

    So what it comes to is that if a calculation has been done it should be published and annualised instead of being inflated by reporting it over 10 years. If it’s been done by the Government a Freedom of Information request might be helpful. If Stonewall did the calculation they can also publish it if they wish, which will help us analyse exactly what is being suggested.

    Even if there is a cost we need to analyse if it is worth it or not rather than assume any cost should be avoided, irrespective of the equality impact and wider potential benefits to society.

    Otherwise we are caught in a lot of bluster (on both sides of the argument to a certain extent) over who said what at the Lib Dem Conference fringe event, which is having us going around in circles somewhat.

  19. “I genuinely do not know where the costs come from and would like to be more informed as to what actual factors are in play here and waht assumptions the analysis is based on.”

    Ask Stonewall.

    They are the ONLY ones who brought it up, but they are unable or unwilling to discuss it.

    I am not convinced.

    In any case, the finanaces are irrelevant.

    If equality is important then the cost must be absorbed or dealt with.

    I also call on LGBT Labour to bar Stonewall from any discussion of marriage equality at their party conference.

    Stonewall donot represent the LGBT community. They represent their unidentified backers. They no longer have any credibility when it comes to LGBT equality issues.

  20. Simon Murphy 25 Sep 2010, 1:54am

    As I see it Stonewall now has 4 options:

    1. They will disband.

    2. They will sack Ben Summerskill, appoint a leader who supports LGBT equality and start actively campaigning for this.

    3. Announce that they are officially opposed to LGBT equality (in which case they’ll soon have to disband, as they will have zero credibility among the LGBT community).

    4. They will rebrand themselves as a specifically anti-bullying charity and take a backseat in other matters relating to LGBT equality.

    Whatever they decide, their lack of transparency when it comes to their agenda, is no longer sustainable.

    I feel it would be best all round if they go for option 1 or 2.

  21. Simon Murphy 25 Sep 2010, 2:02am

    Over the past 2 years I’ve dealt with lots of personal insults and attacks on these comments pages, when I’ve referred to Stonewall as a homophobic organisation. Sometimes I felt that maybe my antipathy to Stonewall misguided.

    This week I feel a certain sense of validation. I’m glad I trusted my instincts. Stonewall is no friend of the LGBT population. Especially with Summerskill at the helm.

  22. Ben, darling, it’s VERY simple.

    Make ALL civil institutions available to ALL citizens and let INDIVIDUALS decide for THEMSELVES which is best for them.

    Do you really need to do a survey to figure this out?

    Should all gay/lesbian/bi people have to settle for the lowest standard that ALL will accept? Should the rest of the community have to do without marriage equality just because a small minority of lesbians (and a small minority of gay men) find the institution of marriage offensive?

    I have an answer for that too. It’s similar to my answer to straight people who don’t support same-sex marriage. If you don’t agree with same-sex marriage, DON’T MARRY SOMEONE OF THE SAME SEX!

    If you find marriage offensive, DON’T GET MARRIED!

    Honestly, where is all the controversy in this?

  23. Mr Summerskill can argue that “supporting straight people is not one of our objectives” if he wishes. But what does he have to say about supporting bisexual people who want the right to get civil partnered to an opposite-sex partner? Or does Stonewall not care about them either?

  24. Omar Kuddus GayasylumUK 25 Sep 2010, 2:44am

    so stonewalls stance is basically that money is the object why LGBTs should not be allowed to marry and that as such the gay community should tolarate being classifed as second classs citizens and not given equal rigts.
    So what about my pink tax pounds that are spent on things that dont concern or effect me?
    Or is it that stonewall just does not understand tgiderhat it is ment to represent the LGBT community and that we are a part of socity as eual and equality has no price.

  25. Vainglory plays a part. Ben Summerskill seems to believe that the civil partnership is his baby, it really looks like he don’t want to see civil partnerships become redundant and usurped by marriage equality.

  26. Excuse typo, That should have read doesn’t rather than don’t


  28. Does Stonewall HQ have railings? If so I’m digging out my handcuffs. Anyone with me?

  29. I’d also like Stonewall to be banned from any further party conferences as well but something tells me that banning Summerskill from a labour conf is pretty unlikely. Both Stonewall and the name Summerskill have been linked with the labour party for such a long time. I don’t know who they are consulting or who they mean by their supporters but I have a horrible feeling that they probably come from the labour ranks. I really do wonder whether a marriage equality victory for the coalition would do labour any good…..

    I would feel much more assured if labour adopted a similar policy to the lib dem one in their forthcoming conf or I knew that they were fully backing the lib dem policy. I stil remember that initial interview with D Milliband where one of the persons he could think of who had the greatest impact on lgbt rights was Summerskill! I also keep remembering Brown’s interview with Attitude just before the election where he stated he was against gay marriage because he had to “balance the right to live free from prejudice and discrimination with the right to freedom of speech and religion”.

    Please labour prove me wrong and show that you have changed and give a clear signal to Stonewall in the same way as the lib dems have!

  30. Peter & Michael 25 Sep 2010, 8:30am

    Thankfully the LibDem party have voted for Same-Sex Marriage, perhaps the Labour Party will also do the same next week at their conference, although they had the chance to legislate into law. Will the Conservative Party endorse Same-Sex Marriage at their upcoming Party Conference? If they do, can we look forward to gaining this objective? We have always campaigned on these pages for Same-Sex Marriage, since we had a Civil Partnership in 2005 and finding out how second class this arrangement had become, not being recognised in hotels, hospitals and some doctors whom refused to see us together. One of us is suffering from Bowel Cancer now and the difficulties we have faced have been enormous, no one has been there for us. So will someone please implement Same-Sex Marriage soon and let us get some recognition of our time together.

  31. HelenWilson 25 Sep 2010, 8:37am

    @ Celso

    More like he fancies being called a Lord

    It will be a big climb up from pond life

  32. Do Stonewall honestly predict that many straight people opting for civil partnerships when they already have the option of registry office weddings?
    I know there have been one or two cases of it, but frankly I’m not seeing a stampede. Could it be because straight people know deep down it’s framed as a second class, back of the bus, seperate water-fountain option?
    In any case, I was always under the impression that the person getting married or their family footed the bill for the ceremony (disregarding tax breaks which are also available to straight marriages, so largely irrelevant to the argument). Am I missing something?

  33. Why would somebody who currently doesn’t want to get married want to get CPed either, the main problem with both are that they are not contracts, everything is pooled and everbody knows that the “divorce” procedure is the same. If both were available then there isn’t suddenly going to be a new pool of people willing to make life time committments. The pool will be more or less the same……I doubt whether there are many people out there who have delayed getting married or CPed out of principle – (admittedly there are some!!) – the financial consequences are too great to not do them….. Where did they get this extra demand of people suddenly wanting to make these committments from? If they were going to change the way CPs worked, make the divorce procedure simpler and the division of assets simpler etc, while keeping the benefits the same ,then I agree the number of straights and gays wanting to do CPs would increase.

    I suspect all the arguments about feminism, lesbians and others not wanting to do marriage, not being willing to make marriage equality a priority before eradicting homosexual hate crime and bullying from the face of the earth , potty trainig straights about gay partnerships by having a seperate box for CPs on their tax returns and now this new costing figure are all red herrings.

    Surely there is something going on that we don’t know of here, it’s not logical for a LGBT org to not fight for LGBT equlity, full stop… Whether it’s money, a peership in the offerring or whether Stonewall has not had the go ahead from labour yet… their lack of support for marriage equality can only lead to more speculation and intrigue…what I do know is that this can’t be good for Stonewall and its LGBT credentials…

  34. I agree with you Flapjack
    There doesn’t seem to be much of a call from opposite sex couples for civil partnerships, there was an isolated report I recall of one couple who seemed mostly to be making a political statement about equality.
    If there is a group or organisation calling for opposite sex civil partnerships in UK I haven’t heard of it.

    Civil marriage equality in UK and ultimately throughout the EU to guarantee freedom of movement is the most important thing.

    Whether or not we achieve marriage equality or remain fobbed off with the second best option of civil partnerships… religious ceremonies for same sex couples who want them are inevitable when there are churches willing to provide them, banning religious ceremonies for same sex couples is an infringement of our religious freedom laws.

  35. In support of my last post:
    Heterosexual couple begin legal fight after being refused civil partnership
    “Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, both 25, want the same legal rights as any husband and wife, but said they did not want to be seen to be “colluding with the segregation that exists in matrimonial law between gay civil partnerships and straight civil marriage”.”

  36. BTW, well done Pink News! This is what good, investigative journalism is all about. You now have my undying respect where before Pink News just seemed to be about reprinting Stonewall’s PR puff pieces verbatim. Now you are doing the right thing and holding those who profess to represent us to account while they slip and slide down the greasy pole they have ascended by sleight of hand, and with our backing!

  37. The DirectGov website says that civil partnerships are treated the same as marriages for tax and benefit purposes. So there is no financial incentive to civil partnership over marriage. I have no doubt that there would be straight civil partnerships if they were allowed, but not for tax or benefit purposes. Civil partnerships would probably be attractive to straight people who are not religious, although civil marriage in a registry office is already a non-religious option for straight couples. If lots of straight couples opted for civil partnerships, then the number of marriages would presumably go down by the same quantity. There would probably be no net increase in marriages/civil partnerships for straight people (except perhaps for a brief period due to the novelty factor). So, why would there be any additional cost?

  38. Cost has no factor on love and ones right to unions. Stonewall have killed themselves they do not represent the lgbt community. They are anti equality , and why not stand up for straight people too aslong as it’s not against lgbt people as everyone gets discriminated against and should be supported

    Stonewall doesent help or care about anyone it’s clear … Don’t fund them


  39. Craig Nelson 25 Sep 2010, 11:55am

    Just wanted to comment on Stonewall’s statement that they don’t want it to be a “political football”. Section 28 was a matter id party politics. The Tories introduced it and then poioaed its repeal. Same as other equality issues – people did work had within political parties to push forwards equality.

    You can talk to the Tories till you are blue in the face you won’t get anywhere. If you remember their so called contract on equality at the election said that they would look into marriage equality but then Cameron said No we haven’t any plans to do that – before the ink was dry.

    The fact is that LGBT people are organising in unions and political parties and shouldn’t need to wait for Stonewall on any given issue if they have a democratically arrived at policy.

    I think its interesting that Delga and LGBT Labour are both pushing an identical policy which they arrived at through the voice of their respective memberships.

    So yes I do think its a political issue. Question is whether Tories will allow it to move forwards. On that I am a pessimist but I think their coalition partners are in a better position to influence them if they wish to do so.

  40. Hayden #22 – I completely agree.

    PN – thanks for finding this out. I hope we’ll soon get to the bottom of this and find out exactly what BS is doing and why. His excuse that he was predicting what opponents would say isn’t credible at all. Surely most opponents would say that marriage is one man, one woman? And, even if they did mention money, then why make up such an enormous figure for them to quote? Anyone would think somebody was trying to sabotage LGBT equality.

  41. Celso F Lopez 25 Sep 2010, 2:04pm

    I honestly think he has been offered something. Try finding out where Angela Mason is just now(his predecessor).

    Q-Where do you go from being the Head of Stonewall?

    A-To get a really good job in the labour party/ government and an OBE

    Q-What do you have to do in return?

    A-Be a good boy and do as you are told by your future benefactor.

  42. If you were a pressure group with strong ties to one political party, and then found the other party in power, and you had no influence with them, what would you do? Would you support reform from the sidelines as you watch the party in power deliver reform, and in doing so loosen the allegiance of your supporters with the former political party? Or would you drag your heels and filibuster, and try to make it look like the party in power are resistant to reform in the hope you could hold off reform until the former party got back into power?

    Of course it would depend on whether your allegiance to the cause was deeper than your allegiance to the political party.

    “Political football” indeed!

  43. Wingby – interesting scenario!

    I guess equally are that former party’s committments to LGBT rights, including marriage equality, deeper than their desperate need to get back into power. Would they be willing to work with a party in power to gain marriage equality or find a need to work against them ….

  44. Breaking News! (Sorry PinkNews, I imagine he’s a bit too pissed with you to give you the story!!)

    Well I guess that clears that up! But hang on a minute, “actively considering the future of gay marriage.” Isn’t that pretty much the same as Cameron said before the election. And so it goes on.

  45. @john

    No doubt all sides could agree on equal marriage, but one side could also open up a sufficiently rich vein of alternatives around what to do with CPs to grind any action to a halt.

  46. How is it that Summerskill mentions bisexuals re civil partnerships. As far as I know, only gay people, two same sex people are allowed to form a civil partnership, so what’s that nonsense all about?

    The fact of the matter is, Summerskill just doesn’t want to pursue civil marriage equality for gays because he firmly believes that they are identical and equal to marriage and claims that he speaks for the majority of LGBT people in the country. He’s no friend of equality, in fact he’s a traitor. Just because he doesn’t think StonewallUK should pursue it speaks volumes that it just doesn’t care. You can be sure he’d be the first to scream if we all started a push to abolish civil partnerships altogether, but we don’t do we? He should campaign for it even it he and his supporters personally doesn’t believe in it for that matter. He should resign and let someone more capable take over if its to remain relevant, so far its signing its own death warrant.

  47. HelenWilson 25 Sep 2010, 3:52pm

    “”Stonewall has assured the community it is actively considering the future of gay marriage.””

    Its not for Stonewall alone to consider, many other LGBT groups outside Stonewalled need to have a say, and that includes trans people too something Ben refuses to do. I think Ben Summerskill and Stonewalled should stay away from the party conferences. If they don’t have a position yet what the hell are they doing trying to influence others votes on the matter. They dont have a position remember! The fact they have had seven years to develop a position shows they are not the leading LGB charity on this issue.

    We have seen Ben make arguments for the interests of the treasury and the extreme end of feminism. However he seems to of never argued for the interests of the LGB and equality on this issue.

    “”We’re also determined that this issue shouldn’t be used as a party political football.””

    So why did Ben get up at the Lib Dem conference with a set of figures Stonewall made up to try and make it one?

  48. re: Wingby no.44 –

    thanks for the update

    Damn, Mr. Summerskill really doesnt get it does he…….. he seriously thinks that subtle word play is going to appease the anger of a lot of people and make everybody go “Oh, that’ alright then”… this is why people are so freaking angry with Mr Summerskill, his use of a figure of money that is not rigourous in its forming, using the hard left feminist argument against marriage when alot of men and women are for it thereby snubbing everybody because they don’t fit within his very narrow idealogical definition. The irony that his idealogical definition flies in the face of equality because what he wants is to maintain a separation of the two ceremonies based on sexuality even though it doesnt intitally seem like that’s what he’s saying that is what can be inferred

    and he’s the one by his lack of affirmative voice and action that has made it a “political football”

    His beginning statement is what angers me the most and is hugely symptomatic of the way he is negotiating this problem “Stonewall has assured the community it is actively considering the future of gay marriage.” linguistically this means notthing. How are they actively considering the future of gay marriage, by staring in their navels? Reading tea leaves? Maybe a possible sheep disembowling or 2?

    ok on that note I’ll end this comment

  49. Wingby – yes I think CP equality could be more of an issue than marriage equality , it’s ok to have the 1.5% gay pop doing marrige, we don’t matter, but having straights preferring to do CPs rather than marriages may be more difficult to stomach…(the undermining of the instituion of marriage argument comes into mind)

    That’s why it would be good to know if lab support all the lib dem policy on CP and marriage equality. I know they haven’t adopted an official policy yet. Someone above said that the gay parts of these parties were in full agreement but I’m not aware of any labour MP giving any opinion on CP equality…

    As for stonewall, if we knew who their supporters were then we’d know their agenda…No-one on any of these posts have come out with explanation who they are , so heavens know who stonewall are acting for or what the will eventually do. I know that I’m not a supporter so I won’t be consulted.

  50. John – I fear Stonewall’s consultation methodology will be as rigorous as their calculation of the £5bn

  51. Stonewall is wasting valuable time faffing about. Who knows how long this coalition government will be around for. This is an opportunity that should be firmly grasped and Stonewall should be pushing and lobbying hard for gay marriage. Even the new Labour leader is in favour of gay marriage. Come on Stonewall! You are doing sever damage to the cause and movement for full equality. The gay folks who are committing suicide and or being bullied need to know there government supports who they are as a person entirely.

  52. So he come up with an argument that might be raised against him – fine, good thinking, good plan to work out what the opposition might say so he can work out a response. But then he uses it against himself. That’s not just homophobic; that’s crass stupidity.
    If he’d bothered to ask them, any of Stonewall’s poor benighted followers could have told summerskill that that was not a good idea.
    Let’s hope the labour party under Ed Miliband will be a more reliable fighter for our corner, because God only knows, stonewall under summerskill is no longer a safe pair of hands.

  53. Brian Paddick 25 Sep 2010, 6:45pm

    In my opinion:

    1. You do not have to attend many Stonewall events to form the impression that it has many Labour party supporters (wildly enthusiastic reactions to Labour politicians winning ‘politician of the year’, pro-Labour speeches at a Stonewall dinner during the last London Mayoral campaign, etc.) I have also been told that many politicians from other parties believe Summerskill to be pro-Labour – that is certainly my impression.

    Could it be that Summerskill does not want the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition to pass a gay marriage law as it would damage Labour? Labour has an excellent record on gay rights but this would break Labour’s previous monopoly on passing gay rights legislation. It would also help to recast the Conservatives as a progressive party on gay issues. The Lib Dems have always been in the vanguard of equal rights for LGBT people but they have just never been in a position to do anything about it – until now. A gay marriage law under the current coalition could shift the previous alliance between LGBT people and Labour.

    2. Summerskill has been obstructive (‘not a priority’ etc.) on the issue of gay marriage for some time, possibly because his Labour friends, when they were in government, told him to ‘hold it there’ once civil partnerships were in place. If so, Stonewall should be setting the agenda based on what the LGBT community say, not holding back because of what any political party might be asking them to do.

    3. Maybe Summerskill does not want the agenda to be set by anyone other than Stonewall. Maybe he tried to derail the gay marriage vote at the Lib Dem Conference to prevent the Lib Dem’s getting ahead of Stonewall? The £5bn figure, for example, has been shown to be spurious. If that wasn’t bad enough, for it to come from Stonewall, an organisation supposedly in favour of gay equality, is outrageous.

    Whatever the analysis, Stonewall, by design or by default, are obstructing attempts to introduce LGBT equality in the area of marriage. A gay rights charity is hindering progress in achieving equal rights for LGBT people. Summerskill’s position is untenable.

  54. Summerskill’s position is only untenable if Stonewall cares about what the people who disagree with it say

  55. Peter Tatchell 25 Sep 2010, 10:49pm

    Equality has no price tag. It is a simple matter of justice and fairness. Many people argued against the abolition of slavery on the grounds that it would cost too much. But others saw the principle of black equality as more important than the cost. Thankfully, they won in the end. We will, eventually, win this fight for marriage equality too.

  56. Simon Murphy 26 Sep 2010, 3:50am

    Peter Tatchell. I love you. I’m with you baby.

    Do you believe that Stonewall is necessary? Or will we achieve equality without them?

  57. Answer to the abovre – of course we will achieve it without them!

  58. Mike Savant 26 Sep 2010, 10:32am

    disingenuous at worst, political jeu de paume at best.

  59. Brian,

    Stonewall has always taken the “anti-patriarchy” line on marriage. I can remember their message board moderators deleting any post that mentioned the word “marriage” when CPs were first being discussed. A few of us had fun seeing how long our comments would last if we included the word marriage somewhere in the post. At least they actually allow people to say the word now!

    There is a small group of lesbians who have set the agenda on this issue from the earliest days of Stonewall. They won’t approve any policy decision if they decide it is “anti-feminist” – which is why Stonewall will NEVER back marriage equality and the world will move on without them.

  60. Charles P – I’ve just read an interesting Irish article called Feminism and the same sex marriage debate 2009 , don’t know why the artilce was produced or it’s importance but its conclusion is as below:

    “Same-sex marriage turns on its head the biologistic and ‘natural’ cultural assumptions surrounding reproduction and the family; it carries the potential to subvert and overthrow the historical conception and implications of marriage. By so doing, the ideology and romantic myth of marriage that has long been critiqued
    by feminists is uprooted from its traditions. We should have access to the same legal routes to protect our relationships and families as heterosexuals have, because the situation is otherwise deeply discriminatory and acts to support and maintain a patriarchal and heteronormative agenda.”

    It seems unfair for Stonewall to bandy around reasons such as many people would’nt want gay marriage, it costs too much, lesbians don’t want it, feminists don’t want it witout actually give proof that they have done some research into this – we are left with the feeling that he’s come across a few lesbians , feminists and gays in the past who have said they prefer CPs to marriages and he has conveniently leaped on these few people to come to his decision.

    As we can see his costing figures are spurious and have come across more like something calculated on the back of a fag packet…

    As for his comments about consulting with supporters , then this has caused ,for me at least, an even more intriguing question as to who the supporters are and how are they consulted!

  61. If Labour were to officially support marriage equality for gays but doesn’t support civil partnership equality for straights, I could live with that. Besides, I don’t think many straights would opt for a civil partnership anyway. Is there a straight movement fighting for that I wonder? My straight female cousin said she would prefer a civil marriage than a civil partnership if she had to choose, so would I. After all, its the universal gold standard and civil partnerships are not going to catch on all over the world, ten countries have already debunked that myth.

  62. SteveDenver 26 Sep 2010, 5:20pm

    How much does it currently “COST” for straights to be married?

    Perhaps the entire idea of government and business involvement in emotional partnerships is too costly.

  63. Hi, in my opinion, all people should have the right to get married; therefore, gender neutral marriage will also help to stop people from pretending to be hetersexual, in order to, get married, furthermore, hopefully, especially, in terms of, human rights, it will prove to be an good investment, Good Luck

  64. The figure quoted was for the cost of opening civil partnerships up to opposite sex couples, not for opening marriage up to same sex couples. Personally I think civil partnerships have served their puropse and should be scrapped- therefore no high cost implication. CPs converted into marriage and everyone happy.

  65. sort out the marriage equality issue first and keep the CP issue until a later date. That means no party can knobble it beucase of the issue of what to do with CPs.All parties can claim the LGBT goody two shoes vote. Really can’t see them wanting straights to do CP, they’ve already rejected that in the original CP argument anyway.

  66. Celso F Lopez 26 Sep 2010, 11:40pm

    @John and ChrlesP: there are still people that believe words (like for example marriage) have fixed meanings? They are either really crass or really crazy. Why take their opinion into account?

  67. HelenWilson 27 Sep 2010, 3:32am

    “”They are either really crass or really crazy.””

    Ms Bindel is both

    I bet we see an article from Bindel against gay marriage very soon.

  68. But why keep civil partnerships? A new law should:
    1. make marriage gender neutral.
    2. cancel civil partnerships.
    3. Convert any existing CP into marriage!

    That way the cost issue is gone.
    If some feminist lesbians have issues with the marriage concept, they will understand that the new gender neutral marriage is a new concept they can be comfortable with.
    Well this is how I see it

  69. I agree with Ben and Dromio

    We only have CPs becuase we weren’t allowed the word marriage back in 2005. As far as I can see they were meant to segrate us from the “norm”, appease a few people at that time. They kept the rules more or less the same for marriage and CP , CPs don’t offer anything new to anybody.

    I understand getting a new cohabitation law for same sex couples and straights but having 2 duplicate laws running in parallel at the same time – what’s the point….. As someone said we have civil marriages and relgious marriages already.

    I also agree with someone above , CP equality could open a rich vein of negatives – it’s already started with BS spurious figures. Is this the avenue they are going to use to delay and stop any changes I wonder!!! Have the lab party voted marriage and CP equality yet and is it the same wording as the lib dems one???

    I guess I’m still stuck on Brian Paddick’s point 1 scenerio on this, could this all be political and are all parties working out how they can best get the LGBT vote in the next election? Again I don’t understand why a LGBT org would be apparently working against marriage equality.

  70. Tim Hopkins 27 Sep 2010, 12:40pm

    So you would take away the status that many thousands of same-sex couples have already specifically chosen? Yes, a significant number, almost certainly a majority, would have preferred a marriage if it had been available, but not all. It’s not right, or in my view politic, to force couples, some of whom really dislike the idea of marriage, but who now have a CP, to convert to a marriage. The watchword should be choice – maximum choice for all.

    The Equality Network’s big survey of Scottish LGBT people’s views on CP and marriage was completed by 500 people at the start of this year. 97 of those people were in CPs already. We asked those 97 if they would want to convert to a marriage if they could: 57% said yes, and 43% said they’d stick with their CP. It should be their choice.

    There is a big campaign underway in Scotland for marriage equality, and it’s for opening up both marriage and CP to couples regardless of gender.

    A policy to introduce same-sex marriage while getting rid of CP would alienate a significant minority of LGBT people who prefer CP, but who would support marriage and CP being available to all.

    Incidentally, looking at all LGBT respondents in our survey, the majority wanted marriage and CP both opened up to all – a smaller minority wanted CP replaced by same-sex marriage.

  71. Look, I have my own opinion ,but I nvertheless, agree that we have CPs and some gay couples prefer and want to stick with them , and there should be choice but I really don’t know what people in general think of CP equality – the questions asked are to the LGBT community, the times survey figure of 61% – was that for marriage and CP equality?, and the questions asked to the lab leader canditates were do they agree with marriage equality or were they also asked about CP equality as well?

    It’s BS that has opened up the question of what opening CPs to straights might mean , I don’t agree with this argument and it’s unbelievable he come up with this prior to it being voted on, but it’s been plastered around the papers as an argument – are there any other arguments out there against CP equality that somebody has up their sleeve????

    As wingby said above ” No doubt all sides could agree on equal marriage, but one side could also open up a sufficiently rich vein of alternatives around what to do with CPs to grind any action to a halt. “

  72. Tim Hopkins 27 Sep 2010, 2:16pm

    You raise some important points John. I agree that we could do with more surveys into what straight people think of CP. We know that some mixed-sex couples in the UK want a CP. We also know that in the Netherlands, where both are available, about 10% of mixed-sex couples choose registered partnership, and 90% choose marriage – the legal effects are virtually identical. (Amongst same-sex couples, it’s around 25% registered partnership and 75% marriage)

    I think that serious division within the LGBT community and our supporters, about what to campaign for, would undermine any campaign. Again I can only write about Scotland, but here we have put a lot of effort, over 4 years, into consulting LGBT people on this, through surveys and meetings, and discussing the different options. From that it seems that there is a fairly broad consensus among LGBT people that they’d be happy with opening up both marriage and CP to couples regardless of gender.

    That’s what the LibDem policy, adopted last week, calls for.

    The next step here in Scotland is for us to have some detailed discussions with policy makers from government, parliament and elsewhere, about the different options, to uncover any other issues, whether about pension costs or anything else.

    Then I think we’ll be in the best position to look at legislation on this!

  73. Thanks Tim, I hope opening a new partnership (almost identical to marriage ) to straights doesn’t cause a problem for us – the change to this is possibly as significant as marriage equality.

    Out of interest did Holland always have their CPs open to straights or was that also changed at the time marriage equality was changed. What was the reasoining behind Sweden and Norway’s decisions, I think they both dropped their CPs for a marriage.

  74. Tim Hopkins 27 Sep 2010, 5:18pm

    Yes the Netherlands and Belgium both had registered partnership available to mixed and same sex couples, before taking the last step by opening up marriage to same-sex couples. South Africa on the other hand did it all at once – they had only marriage, open only to mixed-sex couples, and, in one go, went to civil union or marriage, open to all.

    I don’t know what the reasoning was in countries like Sweden & Norway, who previously had registered partnership, and did away with it when they introduced same-sex marriage. I suspect a major part of it was lack of interest in the retention of registered partnership from significant numbers of same-sex couples, and lack of a call for its extension, from mixed-sex couples.

    My view is that we should go for what we truly believe in here. If we find we hit huge political opposition to mixed-sex CP, and so we end up in the situation where same-sex marriage is on offer, but only at the price of abolishing CP altogether, then we would be faced with a difficult situation (easy for some individuals in fact, but much harder for others).

  75. Is there no misunderstanding here? Opening CP’s to straight people doesn’t make any sense in my opinion. CP’s were specifically designed for same sex couples as an alternative to civil marriage, it was a pure segregation, apartheid measure. They give the same right and obligations, but without the name. Had there been enough political will at the time, there wouldn’t be any CP today but civil marriage for all.

    The right thing to do is then to convert existing CP’s into civil marriage.

    Comparing CP’s to for example Belgium’s Legal cohabitation contract is an error. In the Belgium system, any two persons can make a declaration at the “commune” that they live together at a specified address. Any two persons means opposite and same sex couples but also brothers and sisters, friends, uncles and nephews, any combination you can imagine. It has no ‘sexual’ connotation at all. It simply gives some rights and protection as far the the shared residence is concerned. It is a far cry from civil marriage or Civil Partnership. Other countries have similar systems, some with more rights than others. Hope this helps, Ben

  76. Tim Hopkins 28 Sep 2010, 6:10pm

    Ben you’re right – Belgium was the wrong comparator, apologies. The Netherlands is the correct comparator to what is being proposed here, eg by the Lib Dems and by ourselves at the Equality Network and our partners. In the Netherlands, marriage and registered partnership have the same legal effects. Some people choose one; some the other.

    But we didn’t adopt our policy on the basis of copying the Netherlands. We adopted it because a significant minority (40%) of existing civil partners told us they’d rather keep their CP than convert to a marriage, and (as in the Netherlands) a significant minority (25%) of LGB people told us that in future they’d rather have a CP than a marriage, if both were available.

    I don’t think we as campaigners should be in the business of telling those people that we know better and they should only have the option of marriage. Options and choice are good!

    If same-sex couples have the choice of marriage or CP, then mixed-sex couples should too – that’s equality. And some mixed-sex couples have told us they’d prefer a CP to a marriage.

  77. I agree with Ben (75) really but accept Tim’s arguments that we have them , we’re stuck with them and now have to give people the option. Whether we go with the Dutch example (which isn’t quite the same since they already had CPs for straights? and we don’t know how these developed), whether we ditch them and convert or whether we suspend doing any more and wind them down or something completely different, it will be interesting to see what they finally do with the existing CP . But in my opinion marriage equality for all is the priority , is the way forward and is non negotiable and probably cohabitation agreements for all in the near future…

  78. If some people don’t want to be married, but have the same rights, that’s OK for me even if it is not that easy to understand. I guess it is nor easy for me to grab the concept as in my mind, civil marriage has no religious connotation at all?
    cheers to all

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