As Ben Summerskill wisely noted in 2009, many gays don’t want to redefine marriage. Let’s hope their voices are heard in this consultation.
She’s back! The Troll that is Jean! Come down out of that ivory tower you inhabit for a meaningful debate. If you can’t then please refrain from posting on this site!
Jean, the only poll that has examined that question is one carried out on this site which found 98% in favour of marriage equality. The voices of the 2% will be just as valid in the consultation, but it will have to take into consideration that 2% is a very small minority. In fact, I imagine that the recent activity and debate will have further reduced that figure. Those LGBT people who are against LGBT equality are the gay equivalent of uncle toms.
Error. Flytipping detected. Garbage will be ignored.
Let’s hope they’re not. This is why democracy is a poor form of government, the preferences of the majority should not be placed ahead of the rights of the individual. Why there even needs to be a consultation is beyond me.
Interesting how Jean posts a contencious issue, then neatly disappears . . .
Wasn’t around when BS asked the LGBT community what it thought in 2009 but now in March 2012 it’s pretty damn obvious don’t you think that there is a huge demand for it….
I know christopher biggins doesn’t want it and I’ve seen his name as the voice of the LGBT people on Christian websites but honestly most of us don’t even know who he is!
I think this is a very sensible and calm response from stonewall. One which I think a number of over voiced people in public life should perhaps listen to – rather than knee jerk reactions and judgements.
Really – well only 2 years ago the head of Stonewall – Ben Summerskill was caught red-handed engaging in a homophobic campaign against marriage equality at the 2010 LibDem Party Conference (Summerskill was present to OPPOSE marriage equality becoming official LibDem policy).
He has never apologised for or explained this sickeningly homophobic behaviour.
The fact that the leader of the self-styled ‘voice of the LGB community’ could behave in such a manner has utterly annihilate Stonewall’s reputation.
Summerskill needs to be sacked.
He represents only himself. He can never again be regarded as a person with any credibility or integrity on the issue of LGBT equality.
As one of the most actively vocal people with regard to the 2009 “incident”, I think David it’s time to move on in our own interest. The man said he thought CPs would be enough to remove discrimination and bullying, and now says he got that wrong. That explanation is enough for now and it neatly drowns the C4Ms argument that he was against equal marriage because its now clearly needed to face off their rampant homophobia He’s on the right side of the argument; we need all the fire power we can get right now. We can pillory him later if he doesn’t come good.
“it’s time to move on in our own interest.”
It is time to sack Summerskill and replace him with someone who is not tainted by homophobia.
That would mean that the next time some extremist group used Summerskill’s behaviour as a reason for denying us equality, then it would be possible to reply by saying ‘Our former head was of that view, as an organsaition Stonewall is utterly opposed to Summerskill’s homophobia and that is why he was removed as the head.’
It would also mean that Stonewall could begin to repair the massive damage that Summerskill did to its reputation.
I have nothing personal against Summerskill.
However it is utterly inconceiveable that Britain’s leading LGB charity is headed by a man who actively campaigned against LGBT equality,
David/Simon: broken record.
I agree its time to move on. Allowing bad feeling to fester when Stonewall are actually on side now and making great comment, actually damages the campaign.
Not at all. I think it is time to expose these people for what they are and not allow them to slide back into our acceptance simply because they changed their minds. Dammit, these people self-professedly claim to represent us, so they need to do it in bad times as well as good and not cave in to political pressure as and when it suits them and then expect the rest of us to willingly accept them back into the fold when it is quite obvious by all that they seriously fcked up and will not even offer an admission, let alone an apology.
However Stonewall COULD be making equally good comments with a leader untainted by homophia like Ben Summerskill is.
Remember that Summerskill’a and Stonewall’s opposition to equality is now being used by extremists as an arguement against granting us equality.
That is easily rectified by sacking Summerskill and by publishing guidelines as to how exactly Stonewall will set its future agenda (so long as the LGBT commuinity is involved in setting the agenda – instead of the current situation where the wholle process is shrouded in secrecy and it seems that Stonewall only cares about its corporate sponsors.)
Too little, too late.
Better that the entire LGBT ‘community’ disassociate themselves from this bunch entirely and try to form some kind of official voice that truly represents us, instead of this bunch of self-appointed, pompous mouthpieces.
Stonewall didn’t actively oppose same sex marriage, they just had no official position and did not have it as a campaign priority until they had consulted their members about it. Once they did that it became a priority. They should have prioritised it much sooner, but now that they are on board their work in favour of marriage equality is a very useful and valuable contribution. Better to judge them by what they are doing now and look at how we can all work together to achieve the goal of equality than harking back to pick apart their past mistakes.
Officially Stonewall neither supported or opposed LGBT equality.
However at the 2010 Lib Dem Party conference (the conference at which marriage equality became official Lib Dem policy) Ben Summerskill argued AGAINST the introduction of marriage equality.
He in fact pretended that it would cost the taxpayer 3 billion pounds to introduce it.
It is self interest and an utter disregard for the LGBT community that allows a man who engaged in a campaign against our community to remain as the head of our leading LGBT charity.
It is very easy.
Sack Summerskill and replace him.
Its beginning to sound like a personal vendetta in here. dAVID, None of us are perfect and lots of us change our minds based on the information available to us at that time. As a proud Gay man, I would have voted against Gay Marriage on the grounds that it was not a great model to follow. NOW, with all the information open to me I have a different opinion. Last time I checked it wasn’t a crime. Maybe you could climb down off the moral high ground
It is not a personal vendetta.
It is simply the situation that a man who engaged in a homophobic campaign against LGBT equality can never be trusted to lead an LGBT equality charity.
There is absolutely no arguement to this.
Summerskill remains unfit for purpose to lead Stonewall due to his unforgiveable behaviour at the Lib Dem conference.
And Stonewall’s refiusal to sack him and explain why on EARTH they refused to support equality until 2010.
Stonewall wants your money. Fine – well they’d better start answering some questions.
Bear in mind that Ben Summerskill and Stonewal’s opposition to equality at the LibDem conference is now being used as an arguement by extremists to deny us equality.
Move on, Ben Summerskill apparently has and for that I commend him, your divisive comments do our cause no good.
While I welcome these comments from Stonewall, the fact that many of the campaigners against gay civil marriage are using Ben Summerskill’s words from a few years ago as fuel to the fire.
I wonder whether perhaps Ben Summerskilli s the right person tol ead Stonewall at this time? Just throwing the question out there as I realise that he has also done a lot of good while being CE of the organisation.
Stonewall’s reputation among our community cannot and will not recover until Summerskill is replaced by someone who does not have such huge questions marks over their credibility as Ben Summerskill does.
Summerskill was caught actively campaigning against marriage equality (and ONLY changed his homophobic behaviour after the outpouring of condemation which greeted his massive betrayal of our community).
How can such a person be trusted with our best interests.
Stonewall can recover its reputation by replacing Summerskill with someone who believes in LGBT equality.
Its only a finger grip they have and they are being fantastic in their media about equal marriage now.
Time to move on and stop festering the discontent. The discontent and personalising of the aggression against Stonewall undermines the campaign for equal marriage.
Equal marriage is more important than allowing festering disagreement to continue.
We must also step up our campaign to have Ben Summerskill sacked as head of Stonewall.
His homophobic campaign against marriage equality in 2010 is now being used against us by the extremists.
Stonewall has changed its tune since the outpouring of horror and disgust at Summerskill’s reprehensible behaviour.
But while Ben Summerskill remains as head ot Stonewall, then Stonewall lacks all credibility.
Summerskill needs to go.
I heard Ben Summerskill on Radio 4 ‘The Moral Maze’ the other day defending the gay marriage bill. He did a really excellent job against the usual nasties, sound calm, reasonable and extremely intelligent. It’s quite absurd to call him ‘homophobic’ in any sense.
Arguing AGAINST marriage equality at a party conference was about whether a party should suppport marriage equality, and backing up his opposition by pretending that the cost of equality to the taxpayer would be 10 billion, is the very definition of homophobia.
Ben Summerskill is a homophobic opportunist .
Homophobic is pushing it, I saw him more as a spiritless new labour zombie who didn’t want to rock the boat. Stonewall’s crap and damaging record on trans issues should be mentioned as well.
I agree Summerskill should step down as I find him and consequently Stonewall a complete chocolate teapot that does little to further LGBT causes, and everything to ingratiate themselves further into the political hierarchy.
However, ineffective, too little and too late I agree with, but to call them homophobic is simply barmy. Just because somebody does not necessarily agree with what the majority of gay people want does not make them homophobic (or that ridiculous term ‘self-hating’ if they themselves happen to be gay).
Stonewall’s response is pathetic. It looks like something they’ve bashed together in 30 minutes.
Civil Partnerships were enacted in 2005.
Since then Stonewall did literally NOTHING to achieve marriage equality for our community.
The fact that they are now supporting legal equality is simply a desperate attempt by Ben Summerskill to protect his 6 figure salary.
The fact that Ben Summerskill remains as the head of Stonewall displays the utter contempt in which Stonewall holds our community.
I’m trying to be nice about hypocrites who have changed their minds on marriage equality over the years in our favour (Chris Bryant, Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Ben Summerskill and Stonewall, the Tory party).
So it’s nice to see Stonewall supporting the correct side for once with it’s usual lack of passion.
Shame their former stance is now being used against us all by the bigots.
I’m not doing very well at this being nice malarkey, I will try harder!
“Shame their former stance is now being used against us all by the bigots. ”
That is reason enough to sack Summerskill immediately.
Yes he ‘changed his mind’ (and thereby kept his 6 figure annual salary) but the damage he wreaked on our equality campaign cannot be rectified while he remains the head of Stonewall.
As someone who has worked hard face to face to change the views of two of those you listed, I prefer to be happy that they’ve eventually got on the bus, rather than castigating them for not having done so earlier.
This is no time to be factionalising.
Absolutely, I second that emotion!
I’m glad that the work you did, helped change the view of others, though I’m sorry you even needed to do work to convince them.
Whilst I see from various comments you are prepared to put being you (us) what Ben Summerskill did in the past (or did not do to be precise), I’m sure just as we must respect your views on the matter, similarly you must respect the views of others who feel differently about the issue.
I do think presenting a united front at this time is undoubtedly in our interests. We must remain the reasonable party in relation to the gay marriage debate. We have the moral high ground and we should make sure we keep it.
That said, it did very much appear to me that Ben Summerskill was not working in our interests and I think to me, and to others no doubt, it did appear that his actions were politically motivated, in seemingly not wanting to see marriage equality introduced under anything but a Labour government.
I totally agree with you – especially on the last point. So it’s good that having been run over by the bus, he’s now decided to get on. The biggest issue with the CP crowd was that they were so pleased with what they achieved, they didn’t realise it wasn’t enough.
The point is that despite all our efforts to push Stonewall in the right direction and BS in an outward direction, he’s still there and they are still big and rich and powerful, so they must be representing someone and he must have the support of his trustees. And having them supporting this strongly right now will probably help.
Given where we are, it’s best to bury the hatchet right now, but remember where we put it for later.
I support a united front also.
However a united front will not be possible when religioux extremists are using Ben Summerskill and Stonewall’s homophobic campaign against equality against us.
This problem is easily resolved by appointing a leader who has a long record of supporting full LGBT equality.
I think to further compound this worry, that I and others have about the way he acted, as has been said, we now have those opposing equality using his words to justify their position.
Based on that I think the decent thing would have been for him to step back and resign from his position.
I think his about face on the issue could lead to arguments that the gay community isn’t even clear what is wants.
When addressing the issue a few years ago, he only needed to say that Stonewall didn’t have a position (yet) on the issue. He did not. He went a great deal further, and that was a serious error of judgement in my view, and that error is currently being thrown back in our faces by those who oppose us.
Hence it would be better for everyone if Summerskill was replaced by someone without the question marks over their credibility and integrity.
There would be no factionalism if Stonewall sacked Ben Summerskill and replaced him with someone not tainted by homophobic bigotry.
There are plenty of good candidates.
Summerskill has got to go.
Summerskill is only the visible bruise on a rotten apple.
totally agree that ben summerskill is not the right person to advocate on this issue. he has done an incredible lot for our community but some issues you just cannot advocate for at such high level if your heart is not in the right place. it’s good however to see that stonewall as an organisation is now on the right side of this debate, but it may be time for a change in leadership.
on the issue of cost, how about we make everyone’s pensions entitlements start in 1978 – gay and straight? fair? would no doubt save some money…
“some issues you just cannot advocate for at such high level if your heart is not in the right place.”
Actually it is much worse than that.
He actually urged a party in favour of equality to NOT support equality as it woiuld cost 3 billion (a figure he made up on the spot.)
He lacks all credibility as a spokesman for our community.
And Stonewall cannot be trusted while he remains in charge.
You are absolutly entitled to your opinion dAVID….but remember that thats ALL it is…a personal opinion. nothing more.
It is not a personal opinion that Ben Summerskill argued against equality as recently as 2010, by pretending that equality would cost the taxpayer billions.
It is not an opinion that he has refused to explain his appalling position.
It is not an opinion that how Stonewall sets it agenda and to whom it is answerable is shrouded in mystery.
My belief that Ben Summerskill needs to be sacked immediately is an opinion, I give you that.
All LGBT people all around the world need to be free, free as any other person is to get married and have decent jobs and a life free of fear from the people in religion who want to keep them slaves to being second class people. The time for freedom of all LGBT people has come and we need to take that freedom which is ours and move forward to make this a better world and teach the religions that hate how to follow their beliefs of love and understanding for all.
I don’t understand what is meant by the government may have overstated the costs of training registrars to perform civil marriages for gay couples. What training is necessary. Isn’t it just a slightly different text used to perform such a ceremony? For example, instead of saying “do you take so and so to be your lawfully married wife or husband”, all that is needed is a slight modification, i.e. lawfully married partner or spouse. Why would this require training or cost?
Ben Summerskill should now may it crystal clear to our opponents where he stands, i.e. in full support. Otherwise, they’ll continue to use him as an example of some gay people being opposed to any changes in the marriage law. He needs to address it and them.
On your second point, Robert, I heartily agree!
Ben Summerskill should resign, during the 2010 Liberal Conference he opposed Same-Sex Marriage for LGBT folk, he does not speak for us.
really people, lets get our head in gear and stand together, If we want to be treated as equals that is what we must fight for. I dont agree with the goverment keeping civil partnerships on the books just for gay people. If they want to keep civil parnerships then they must be for all the people and marrage must be for all the people. It should not make a diferance if you are gay or straght, when you apply for your marrage licence, you should be able to state that you are either a civil partnership or a marrage. It should not depend on male and female but rather on love and what the couple wants, a contract or a marrage
Stonewall is a charity not private entity like PN, it should therefore actively represent interest of the community that it identifies with. It can be safely assumed that Ben Sumerskill has failed in its duty to uphold interests of the community by failing to uphold its support to crucial human right denied to gay community thus breaching charity’s constitution. And a failure of the charity’s board of trusties to act when the breach occurred was clearly against interests of the charity. I’m surprised that Charity Commission didn’t use its powers as set out in Charities Act to investigate the failings on both occasions. I’m sure that the critical misjudgment on the part of chief executive and board of trusties should have triggered elections to all of the positions.
Sadly Dan, it doesn’t quite work like that. Charities represent themselves and only themselves. As long as they are following the principles laid down in their Articles, they can do pretty much what they like. They don’t have to represent our ‘community’.
‘Stonewall works to achieve equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people’
Claim from Stonewell website
And how they go about that is, unless you give them time, money or are on their board entirely a matter for them.
Even more reason to criticise Stonewall in the strongest terms
And the way to go about that is not by opposing equality and justice to LBT. Stonewall was in a clear breach of the charity’s responsibilities
In real terms, that could mean bugger all.
It is very apparent on here that the majority of LGBT people feel this bunch do not represent us, but are rather in it for their own interests, and maybe it is about time to resurrect the real gay rights movement, or campaign for homosexual equality instead of having to suffer the likes of lukewarm wannabe lobbyists such as these that have quite obvious ulterior motives and objectives.
It is good to see Ben Summerskill and Stonewall making a positive contribution to the marriage equality debate now although I do agree that the time has come for a fundamental review of Stonewall, the work it does, and the people who run it. I don’t support the organisation because it is a charity. I am not a charity case and don’t think other LGBTs are either. Treating us as such was all very Blairite and naturally led to the Civil Partnership Act of Segregation but is not at all the right way forward as the UK embraces genuine equality for LGBTs.
If you havent seen this article in the FT this morning its worth a read – funny, direct and highly supportive of equal marriage:
People arguing against Stonewall are assuming the battle is as good as won. I’m afraid I’m not that optimistic. We do need to pull together. I think Stonewall are doing a decent job on marriage equality.
Anyway, united we stand, divided we fall – we know who our enemies are.
And by replacing Ben Summerskill as head of Stonewall, with someone not tainted by homophobia is the easiest and quickest way to get the community to pull together.
I mean marriage equality is the goal. It is more important that Ben Summerskill’s salary.
Ben Summerskill is a liability to this campaign,
And it is a very easy fix to replace him.
Well civil partnerships are better than nothing, but I personally want marriage, thank you. 2015 at the latest, and it would be nice if we got it in full in the US (every state) and in Japan someday too.
No they are not.
By accepting a half-arsed, half-baked concept like CP’s we are simply kowtowing to their compromises. Either do it properly or don’t do it at all.
Great to see Stonewall are now supporting equal marriage and trying to take a measured stance in being strong but not responding with the vitriol and arrogance of the RC church and C4M.
Its a shame they did not support earlier and make the catostrophic errors of judgement they made. It gives bigots like Jean a tiny finger grip to try and agitate – but the facts are Stonewall support equal marriage, all three major political parties support equal marriage, The Times, FT, Guardian,etc support equal marriage, the lies about the impacts that the C4M claim will happen have been shown not to occur in other countries and we have clergy on our side too. Bring it on!
I suspect Jean is a shill for the C4M and reporting back post haste. You have to concede, C4M et al are very well organised. Why is it our opponents seem to garner more of the headlines than those who support us? Are they deluding themselves into thinking that their opinion will win the argument against SSM?
Stu, I still think Ben Summerskill should be a lot more pro-active. I’m all for civilised calm debate, but allowing C4M to use a very damaging comment by Summerskill two years ago to get away with it, doesn’t pass muster. He MUST be more assertive and get the message out loud and clear that his past views are no longer the case. Surely he must realise C4M et al are exploiting StonewallUK’s past history on marriage equality and making quite a lot of hay about it. He must intervene to set the record straight once and for all.
At least Ben Summerskill has backed marriage equality recently. But the move towards equality isn’t helped by stuff on telly at the moment. So I think Stonewall will need to do another report on the BBC.
Take this tweet:-
or this one:-
or dozens of similar ones showing how much hatred popular fiction can evoke.
Perhaps Stonewall should persuade the BBC to read this Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Page 19 refers to the media’s role in eliminating negative stereotyping of LGBT people.
My latest blog on this issue
Stonewall cold also need to do some carful listening. Redefining marriage is arguably highly illiberal because it is retrospective in effect. Retrospective legislation is repugnant to the principles of natural justice. Millions of couples and their families already have a huge stake in marriage: marriage is for them a key part of their personal identity. They married on the basis that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life. Which married couple ever asked for their identity to be so redefined?
I just want my god damn same sex marriage, it doesn’t affect heterosexual marriages in any way. They are still one woman and one man, husband and wife.
What utter rubbish!
Which married couple ever asked for their identity to be so redefined?
Remarried divorced people, for example.
I’m bisexual. When I was married to a man, we both agreed that same-sex marriage was desirable and would make our opposite-sex marriage more valid, not less. And Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have made the same point.
No one who has ever married added to their certificate: “I marry this man/woman with the condition that marriage will forever be defined as between a man and a woman. If this ever changes, then I will consider myself divorced. In fact if so happens, they can stick this certificate where the sun doesn’t shine”.
The line that I really don’t like in Stonewall’s response is the one tin that they claim that a few people would convert from a CP to a marriage.
I honestly believe it’s more that a few and could quite well be the majority of people in CPs would convert to a marriage.
The Equality Network did a survey of LGBT people in Scotland on issues around marriage equality (it’s referred to several times in the UK Govt’s consultation impact statement). Around 100 people who replied were in CPs. Of those, 54% said they would convert to a marriage if they could, and 42% said they’d prefer to keep their CP.
Thanks, it would be interesting to see what the figure is now..
My belief is that more and more LGBT people are moving away from their past love of CPs to marriage. I don’t know when your survey was done but was it done before the nasty comments from the churches and mps got into the news.?
I think this nastiness is making people more determined that they want marriage and that CPs are most definitely second rate.
Sorry, but that is a backwards argument.
If you had asked those self same people say, five years ago, would they prefer a civil partnership or a marriage I think the result would have been very different.
The whole CP argument should have never really existed in reality, so much that I don’t wish to piss on anyone’s fireworks, there really shouldn’t be any choice in the matter and everyone in a CP should be automatically upgraded to marriage status, with no fees or charges, and be given the commensurate advantages of that position, the same as any other married heterosexual couple.
Not sure whether I should be criticising Stonewall but they don’t really seem to have a serious campaing going for equal marriage.
Apart from not having a meatier response to the consultation it was a bit disappointing that in the email I had from them that they weren’t encouraging people to sign the marriage equality petition, they weren’t really encouraging people to blog and write emails and letters to their MPs and HoL members or meet up with their MPs (not sure what the same love postcard idea is about) and it’s disappoting they don’t have a video campaign like the one they have for school bullying. They have a whole load of “stars” they can ask to go on video supporting marriage equality so why aren’t they doing this.
Yes, it’s good they are supporting equal marriage now but surely they need to make a little bit more noise.
We can have “the calm” voice of Stonewall but it would be nice to hear that “calm” voice a little bit more.
I agree John. If you recall that interview with Connor Marron (Coalition for Equal Marriage) recently who I thought was very inept in countering a C4M representative, Summerskill should have been invited instead where he would have had a wondeful opportunity to rebuff his own statement against marriage equality two years ago. C4M is now using his damaging comment as if it were the current view of StonewallUK which has never been pro-active enough. He needs to get some backbone and refute the enemy upfront with the facts.
First, my perspective – I recall making a rather intemperate remark about Stonewall advocating against marriage equality back in the day and the haters using the same arguments at a future date. Well, the future is here but I will try to be positive.
The most rabid anti-smoking advocate is a former smoker. Stonewall needs to display that kind of public fervor to try to regain lost ground. I don’t sense much “fire in the belly” in the tepid response reported here. Get mad! Get angry! Get marriage equality!
Its all a moot point anyway.
Not a new ruling by the European Court. In Schalk & Kopf v Austria last year, the Court ruled that the Euro Convention does not yet REQUIRE all 47 European countries to introduce same-sex marriage. But it allows countries to do so if they choose. This new case just repeats that point, which the UK Govt already referred to in their consultation impact assessment document (p. 18): “This is a matter for regulation under national law”. The Telegraph is trying to spin this as a problem for same-sex marriage – it’s not.
Also, there are a number of other cases pending in the court on same sex marriage. The court said yesterday some of them appear to have facts (which have yet to be tested fully) which could alter their views of their judgement today – but they are awaiting clarification on these pending cases.
As far as I can see, Peter Tatchell’s case is pretty water-tight in terms of highlighting discrimination issues relating to sexual orientation, whether gay or straight
If Peter loses his case it will be a indictment of the European Court of Human Rights more than anything else.
What about bisexuals – whom Stonewall also allegedly represents – who may wish to enter into an opposite-sex civil partnership?
What about them?
Civil partnerships should be dissolved like the waste of space they are.
Get married like everybody else.
Let’s get something a bit more clear here. Stonewall are a CHARITY. They are NOT a government appointed office or quango, and officially have zero power or say as to what LGBT people should have, and more to the point, are NOT our official representatives any more than the RSPCA represents animals.
Yes, but at least they could be more consistent and stick to what they claim to do:
‘‘Stonewall works to achieve equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people’
When discussing Stonewall it should be remembered that to be included on their Top 100 Employers list, then the only requirement for being on that list is making a financial contribution to Stonewall.
Stonewall is answerable to their corporate sponsors.
Ben Summerskill’s continuing leadership of Stonewall displays the utter contempt in which Stonewall holds the LGBT population.