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Stonewall responds to open letter on marriage equality

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  1. HelenWilson 30 Sep 2010, 5:51pm

    Stonewall go all around the houses and use a lot of words to say nothing and slip the LGBTI a single fingered salute.

    You will see me Stonewall outside the the Stonewall awards protesting, I’m guessing with at lest a thousand others.

  2. Hope the potest goes well!

    He’s already said they are not a democratic organisation and that Stonewall has never claimed to represent all of the LGB community. Does it matter what his “supporters” say , they aren’t the LGBTI community?

    Why go into the negatives when you haven’t even consulted your supporters and come to a decision. It’s all meant to nobble the whole thing.

    What a waste of space. Get labour to agree with the lib dems and get a few tories and ditch the guy!

  3. Where do stonewall get their money from?

    Who pays Summerskill’s wages?

    I know what it says on their website – but some of you seem to know the ‘truth’ about stonewall, and I’d bet that their position on gay marriage has something to do with where they get their funding from.

  4. Stonewall is still unable to say that it supports equality for LGBT people on this issue.

  5. Mike Savant 30 Sep 2010, 6:52pm

    Another wet emission from the leaderless Stonewall via it’s Labour functionnaire. How sad.

  6. It acutally angers me that they’re trying to fix gender recognition problems without implementing marriage equality, because with every move that fixes problems caused by the seperation of civil partnerships and marriage, marriage equality becomes further and further away as it is seen less and less necessary.

    Come on Stonewall, realistically you know the support is there, we know the support is there so why can’t you just accept it? Heck! The general (largely heterosexual) public are more in favour of marriage equality than Stonewall itself, what does that say?

    As is the argument usually used against Republicans and the like, “If you don’t want marriage equality, don’t marry a gay person, but don’t ruin it for the rest of us”

  7. Summerskill has frequently stated unequivocally that Stonewall does not no ‘do’ trans – so tell me, pray, why it was it was talking to ministers about the divorce requirements under the gender recognition act?

    Summerskill wants a consensus on gay marriage – it seems to me that enough polls have been done to demonstrate the existence of a consensus among the general population. Even the other original founders have come out to say that Stonewall should add gay marriage to their agenda. Where, exactly, is his claimed lack of consensus?

    Stonewall is getting beyond a joke.

  8. well, as a result of Ben’s ‘let’s wait’ letter I’ve cancelled my standing order to Stonewall. I guess, as I am one of the so-called 22k supporters, this is the way I expressed my protest. I’;ve also sent them an email, but I guess nothing speaks lauder to a charity than canceling donations.

  9. Summerskill has frequently stated unequivocally that Stonewall does not no ‘do’ trans – so tell me, pray, why it was it was talking to ministers about the divorce requirements under the gender recognition act?

    Very good point, Polly.

  10. Oh for goodness sake. Stonewall do not get it.

    Yes there will be opposition to marriage equality.

    However their refusal to support even the principle of equality is unacceptable and ridiculous.

    What irritates me in this particular Stonewall non-response is the statement:

    “We also know from experience that we have to identify and address objections that might arise to any proposal and that it’s better to do that in advance.”

    What morons.

    WHY are they identifying objections in public (as Summerskill has been doing) without even having a stance on equality? That behaviour actively undermines the campaign for equality, regardless of how they try to spin it.

    Stonewall either supports equality or it doesn’t. They are not a democratic organisation. Nor do they represent the LGBT community.

    They are clearly in crisis mode at the moment (probably because their supporters are abandoning them in droves).

    Out of curiosity, why haven’t Stonewall said when they will be clarifying their position?

    Hoping it will all go away perhaps?

    Summerskill has to go. His behaviour has been appalling and unforgiveable.

    And Stonewall need to officially support the right of LGBT people to have access to civil marriage or be consigned to the dustbin of history.

  11. Stonewall can go burn. They do not support lgbt people. I hate them, moreconcerned with themselves than us.

    I urge everyone to protest and stop paying them to oppose our needs

    Also ain’t it great they say the pink news poll was only 1000 people like our views are worthless as we aren’t paying members.. Well some might be or were, I look forward to seeing what they say when their members want marriage….

  12. Did Stonewall ask their 20,000 supporters before concluding that LGB people don’t need legal protection from harassment? Even Lynne Featherstone seemed a bit surprised at Ben Summerskill’s replies to the Commons Equality Bill Committee.

  13. Marriage, for civil purposes, is the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.
    This does not affect the freedom of officials of religious groups to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs.

  14. Thanks Dave for that link:


    He’s a disaster for LGBTI rights!

  15. In answer to john’s question above, why do Stonewall always get consulted by government, may be because governments know that Stonewall will tell them what they want to hear

  16. Celso F Lopez 1 Oct 2010, 12:09am

    Please contact Peter if you have an empty office space that he could use. There is a tax and security advantage to this. Or if you are willing to distribute his fundraising leaflets and promote his work, please contact him:

    The Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund campaigns for LGBT rights and human rights in Britain and worldwide. To make a donation:

    For info about Peter Tatchell’s human rights campaigns:

    To sign up to receive Peter Tatchell’s campaign bulletins, email your request to:

  17. At the present time Stonewall are worse than worthless.

    Stonewall is valuable to certain people however – bigots, religious people and homophobes.

    Get rid of Stonewall.

    It is past its sell-by date.

  18. It is a very interesting time in LGBT politics right now.

    Gay Inc. (i.e. Stonewall in the UK, the HRC in the US etc etc) has clearly lost touch with the needs of the LGBT community.

    Gay Inc. seems to believe that we are going to achieve equality by sucking up to those in power. But they have very little to show for all their pointless arse-licking.

    We still don’t have legal equality.

    Groups like Stonewall need to be sidelined.

    A more aggressive, direct action type of campaign is needed.

    I do not want a group like Stonewall representing me if it believes that I need to remain a 2nd class citizen until straight society deigns to give me my rights.

    Thank Cher (she’s my ‘god’) for the internet. We can sideline these irrelevant groups like Stonewall and demand our rights, without their ineffective guidance.

  19. If Stonewall is to survive, the most important initial step is to sack Ben Summerskill.

    No offence to him personally but he’s clearly incapable of vocalising the wishes of the LGBT community.

    I have the utmost respect for the work done in the past by Summerskill and his ilk, to fight for improvements in LGBT rights. But since Stonewall (the riot in New York I mean, not the quango in Britain) it has been the younger generations who have changed the landscape, in what we expect and want.

    Stonewall can survive.

    However it requires a much younger leader (Peter Tatchell excepted – he is eternally 21 in his quest for equality), who can articulate what the newer generation of LGBT people want and need.

    I’d like to see Summerskill replaced by a 24 year old. That 24 year old will not have experience in lobbying, but at least she/he will have a better understanding of what is needed for the upcoing generation of LGBT people.

  20. Well it didn’t seem like Stonewall were consulting the great LGBT public before Benjamin’s website [PinkNews] was putting them under pressure on this! Basically, their response says nothing, just like their overall response to marriage equality.

  21. I’m way older than 24 by the way (just in case any of you think I’m being ageist).

    But my generation (the Stonewall UK generation) seems a lot too settled in our ways. Meanwhile we’re still 2nd class citizens.

    Our rights are not going to be diminished by having a younger leadership. Society is far more accepting of us now.

    Let’s just hand the baton of campaigning over to the younger people. They are less settled and have the fire in their bellies to achieve full equality for all of us.

  22. Peter & Michael 1 Oct 2010, 4:40am

    Stonewall should be disbanded, they do not speak for the LGBT community anymore.

  23. If like to know just how the civil partnership bill was wrecked when it has been almost universally hailed as a success offering the same rights to civil partners as to married couples. We shouldn’t care about labels. How others choose to label a relationship has no bearing on the relationship itself nor should it.
    For all the clamour of seperate but equal not being equal I have yet to hear anyone explain any difference in effect between marriage and civil partnership. We have won a great victory it is true but continuing to argue it is of a lesser degree and importance than marriage demeans the true equality we have gained.
    I for one think stonewall has it right on this issue. It’s attentions are best focused on important issues of homophobic bullying and not decrying the label given to the great strides we have made

    There are more important issues than the Labeling of battles already won.

  24. Reply to Conor @23.
    So you think we have come all this way to settle for something just short of equality, religious privilege and prejudice is being appeased but there is no legitimate reason for blocking civil marriage equality.
    Refer you to PN article.

  25. I think the label thing is cos some see a difference – like if one group had whole marriage whilst another group gets something lesser and not marriage, it may not affect how you feel about your relationship but it affects others perception of you and means you are “lesser”

    Stonewall is failing people as i don’t see why they rejected protections for LBG people as cited by dave at 2035 on sept 30, plus their terrible attitude to others and their indifference to marriage that has aided the homophobes

  26. Only allowing L&G people to register their relationships under a separate name (CP) and legislation exclusive to them is the equivalent of making them all wear a pink triangle in the street. Further it allows other people (particularly older people with traditional upbringing) to continue to think of our relationships as categorised somehow different and, by implication, inferior.

    If all civil institutions were open to all people then everyone would start to think of us as no different to anyone else.

    If Mr Numbskull is too dense, or too in hoc to the establishment and his paymasters, to see this then it is time he was pensioned off, silly old fool.

    Perhaps we should have a new, non-moneymaikng campaign group called “Without (Stone) Walls”

  27. Ben Summerskill and Stonewall are presently blocking progress to gay equality and seriously damaging the gay community with their contemptible reluctance, foot dragging and the faux show of indecision around marriage equality.
    Sadly Stonewall UK has now become a liability rather than the asset it once was.
    It’s the first day of October, a new month, not too late for Stonewall to get with the equality program & turn this public relations disaster around… not only to regain the trust and support of the wider gay community but to save Stonewall UK.

  28. The Stonewall Awards are to be held in the V+A Museum on Thursday November 4th.

    I expect Stonewall to have published their findings by Friday 29th of October.

    They’ve already had 5 years to formulate a position on equality (and to identify objections to it.) The fact that they’ve done NOTHING on the issue of marriage equality over the past 5 years is entirely their responsibility.

    It took Pink News 3 days to get the feedback of 1000 people. And those results showed that LGBT people support marriage equality by an overwhelming margin.

    Stonewall have had 5 years already.

    They need to be set a deadline.

    If they have not clarified their position on marriage equality by October 29th (which is 4 weeks – more than anough time for them to do the necessary research); then they are admitting that they are opposed to LGBT equality.

    Which will lead to a most boisterous Stonewall Awards the following Thursday.

    If Stonewall are opposed to LGBT equality then the message needs to be sent to the media and the political parties that they are a spent force and regarded with disgust and horror by the LGBT community.

    4 weeks Stonewall. The clock is ticking.

  29. “Only allowing L&G people to register their relationships under a separate name (CP) and legislation exclusive to them is the equivalent of making them all wear a pink triangle in the street. Further it allows other people (particularly older people with traditional upbringing) to continue to think of our relationships as categorised somehow different and, by implication, inferior.”

    Precisely, benji. It’s the separateness of it that really offends me. There’s absolutely no reason why gay people should be denied access to civil marriage – no reason whatsoever. We’re the only ones singled out for discrimination. Everyone else, regardless of race, age, etc can marry if they choose, but WE aren’t quite good enough for that, it seems.

    Conor, CPs don’t offer quite the same rights as marriage (pension rights being one thing). Moreover, the separate situation of civil marriage and civil partnerships also discriminates against transexuals. Why SHOULD they have to divorce and re-marry just because they change gender? To me that just emphasises the separateness of CPs. If they’re ‘just the same as marriage’ then transpeople wouldn’t have to divorce.

    I don’t see why Stonewall have to consult on anything. No-one’s asking them to support COMPULSORY civil marriage for gay people. All we ask is that we’re allowed the same choice as straight people. Whether individuals choose to marry or not is irrelevant. We should all be treated equally under the law and be entitled to the same rights.

  30. What I find so puzzling about all of this is that it took Stonewall so long to even consider making such a public statement about gay marriage, and even then it appears to be incoherent.

    I find this organisation to be difficult to fathom. It’s priorities aren’t clear and its consultation process is ill defined. Stonewall isn’t a democratic or grass-roots organisation, so it’s hard to come to a conclusion about what is driving its agenda.

    Stonewall had its place in the past, but now it’s well past its sell-by date.

  31. Well I’m glad some of the papers are reporting this – here’s an article in the independant

    “Stonewall, Britain’s largest gay-rights campaigning group, is in the grip of a deepening row…….”

  32. Thanks for the link John,
    I’m really not sure there is much of a call for mandatory same sex church weddings from the LGBT community as Ben Summerskill has suggested here…really?
    Once again I think he is simply stirring up opposition.

  33. Looking at some of the feedback comments from presumably the “straights” on this artilce it makes me more and more sure that marriage equality is absolutuely essential…. We shouldn’t allow people to continually think that we are inferior and should be classed as different and inferior…. Remove ALL legal inequalites….

    YES – the same sex Church wedding bit is provocative …more smoke screens by BS

    I’d love to know the real reason why BS and Stonewall are doing all this….

  34. So, there are roughly 20,000 alledged supporters of StonewallUK and Summerskill has to consult and get their views. If those among them differ signficantly on marriage equality as he claims, then they will be the ones who will dictate if StonewallUK will or will not support marriage equality as part of its agenda. A minority dictacting who gets what is wrong. Nobody is forcing them to marry, it is they who want to force us not to, a minority among minorities. If Summerskill can’t see the harm in that, then he’s totally unfit to lead. He doesn’t need to consult his supporters, he should support it whether he agrees or not. Truly mind-boggling, one of our own standing in the way of full equality. He’s not elected, he’s not in the government and he doesn’t speak for any of us. Yes, there will be opposition in the undemoratic, unelected House of Lords, so what? Spain, Belgium, Portugal and Argentina had far more resistance from the roman cult than anything seen in the House of Lords. This is a civil issue not a religious one and is nothing more than a red herring to stall the process to full equality. Summerskill has no backbone, in fact he’s a coward. The House of Lords doesn’t have the final say in anything, they do not represent the people and certainly not gay people. Their opposition can be overridden and rightly so. Time for it to be abolished and StonewallUK if it doesn’t shape up.

  35. Thanks for the link, John. Oh, but how depressing some of those comments are. For a start, there still seems to be confusion between religious marriage and civil marriage. Some people there seem to think that only a marriage in a church is a marriage and other ones are ‘unions’. Also, I don’t think many straight people commenting there get the equality issue. Some people’s language is so dismissive and nasty.

  36. Of Ben Summerskill “He said: “There is a range of views on this subject, from those who very much want gay marriages and for them to be mandatory in churches, to those who reject civil partnerships as ‘hetero-normative’.

    This is surely incorrect, civil marriage equality is the most important thing to achieve and yes religious church marriages where a church wishes to provide them… but I have not seen anyone here arguing for MANDATORY same sex church marriages, nobody is asking that churches be forced to provide same sex religiouis marriages against their beliefs.
    Why is Ben Summerskill trying so very hard to create obstacles and opposition to marriage equality?

  37. John, I think Summerskill is being paid to put a roadblock on marriage equality. He’s behaving totally irrational. Nobody is forcing anyone to get married or to have a religious ceremony, all we’re asking for is the option to marry like everybody else, nothing more. Some may not want to and that’s their right but they including Summerskill should at least respect and support r those of us who want that right. We’re not exactly demanding that nobody should have a civil partnership now are we? Its obvious Summerskill favours whatever the majority opinion is in the Stonewall membership but they are a small number of people. 20,000 is a very small membership. I don’t see why such a small number of people should be dictating which rights we should be getting when in fact we should be getting every right including marriage and Stonewall should and must include marriage equality.its just as much a priority as the bullying issue. If it can’t multi-task then it shouldn’t be in business. There are an estimated 2-3 million gay people in the UK, surely a portion of 20,000 Stonewall members doesn’t speak for the rest of us? There’s something intrinsically wrong with that equation and it needs to be addressed. I wouldn’t mind betting that Elton John is one of the donors trying to suppress marriage equality, he made a statement not so long ago against it.

  38. “There is a range of views on this subject, from those who very much want gay marriages and for them to be mandatory in churches”

    Ben Summerskill is a liar.

    Nobody wants gay marriage to mandatory in churches.

    We want CIVIL marriage equality.

    Ben Summerskill needs to be sacked for his duplicitous homophobia.
    He is an utterly useless, incomptent represetative of LGBT interests, thanks to his utter inability to comprehend what the LGBT community wants. We want equality. And Summerskill The Useless keeps arguing against this.

    When is Ben Summerskill going to be sacked as leader of Stonewall?

    Before or after they announce their position on marriage equality?

  39. And it’s worth pointing out that there is no ‘range of views’ on marriage equality.

    ALL LGBT people support marriage equality.

    Stonewall is the only LGB (but not T) group that pretends otherwise.

  40. And let’s remind ourselves of the deadline that has been set for Stonewall.

    Stonewall is expected to clarify its position on marriage equality by October 29th.

    This is not a randomly selected date. They’ve already had 5 years to form an opinion on equality. They need to publish it within the next month.

    Otherwise their award ceremony (at the V+A Museum on Thursday November 4th) will be protested in a huge way.

  41. Oh I’m typing lots this evening (if you’re bored by my hyperactivity then contact my alias – he’s called Simon Murphy).

    Ben Summerskill needs to resign on October 29th as well.

    He is utterly unsuitable to be a leader of an LGBT equality organisation thanks to his recent activities.

  42. No further consultation is required now to know that Stonewall UK’s chief executive Ben Summerskill has not in the past and is not presently supporting marriage equality … the evidence suggests all his efforts so far have been an attempt to block marriage equality for LGB’s.

    There is a ban on same sex civil marriage in UK but there is no rationale offered by the Government as to why the ban is in place and neither is there any explanation of who the ban benefits nor how it benefits them.

  43. 20,000 supporters? – this is basically their facebook friends, twitter followers, e-bulletin recipients, donors and corporate members/sponsors. also, the surveys they get yougov to do often only have 1000 or fewer respondents, but they publish research based on these numbers! :-)

  44. Paul, London 19 Oct 2010, 12:51pm

    Whilst it is easy to knock Stonewall I can actually see why they might want to take their time to canvas supporters. The issue is not quite as straight forward as some of you might like to think. If we want gay marriage, do we scrap Civil Partnerships? If not, should heterosexual people be allowed to have a Civip Partnerhsip? Do we convert those Civil Partnerships that have already made automatically into Marriages (possibly against the wishes of those in them). Do we want them to be allowed to take place on religious premises? Do some people want a system of partnership recognition that isn’t based on heterosexual dogma? The issues go on and on… Until there are answers or concensus on some of these points then there is unlikely to be success in changing the law.

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