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Tory MP’s bill calls for partners of gay knights to receive honorary titles

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  1. Great idea and I support this, I wonder what the titles would be?

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 2 Jul 2012, 11:42am

      I was thinking that. I can just hear the smirks from the Daily Mail calling the male partner of a gay Lord…”Lady”. Seriously though, it will be interesting to see the titles that are presented.

      1. Jock S. Trap 2 Jul 2012, 12:00pm

        Your right I am expecting the Daily Mail to make so kind of issue out of it, probably something out of nothing as is the Mail’s usual thing.

    2. Rayne Van-Dunem 2 Jul 2012, 1:45pm

      I suggest “Something-Consort” (“Knight-Consort”, “Dame-Consort”, “Baron Consort”, etc.) as a genderless way to describe the spouse of a gay or lesbian peer. A lot like “Parent 1″, “Parent 2″ on birth or adoption certificates.

      1. What a load of twaddle. Far better to stop the gratuitous right for the wife of a knight or peer to piggy-back onto her spouse’s titlle for the future.

        1. Jock S. Trap 2 Jul 2012, 3:56pm

          Changing the current system wouldn’t make it equal though, it would accommodating because the LGBT would be included.

          That can’t be right surely. We want the same not something made up and different. That kinda loosing the meaning of what we’re trying to achieve.

      2. how insulting to call someone “consort” which when literally translated means “bitch”.

        1. Literally means a female dog? LOL. I think not.

        2. I thought consort meant companion?

        3. late Middle English (denoting a companion or colleague): via French from Latin consors ‘sharing, partner’, from con- ‘together with’ + sors, sort- ‘lot, destiny’.

          (OED online)

  2. Enitrely support this.

    Equality means equality in all areas.

    Would this also extend to bestowed titles?

    1. Jock S. Trap 2 Jul 2012, 12:12pm

      One would hope that however the titles are given will be entirely equal as to how they have been given in the past and present.

  3. Interesting that the MP bringing forward this private members bill is both a Conservative and not listed on C4EM’s website as being in support of equal marriage. Could this be an indications of another Tory MP whose vote we can count on?

    1. Jock S. Trap 2 Jul 2012, 12:00pm

      Let’s hope so, Stu!

  4. Cardinal Capone 2 Jul 2012, 10:34am

    To be really equal titles for all partners should be abolished. People with other titles such as “Doctor” or “Professor” don’t get titles for their wives. Why should a knight or life peer’s wife or partner get one?

    1. I have sympathy with your view, but whilst the titles still exist and are apportioned to partners then they should be done so equally.

    2. Jock S. Trap 2 Jul 2012, 11:57am

      Doctor or Professor shows someone has studied for a number of years to gain that personal title it is different. Of course we also have honourary doctorates too.

      However with Knights and Peers it reflects, usually a lifetimes work, usually with the partner being part of that in contribution. So therefore in most cases I think it is deserving.

      It would be wrong to abolish titles for partners now as it would be seen by the bigot as changing to suit our community when what we seek is to be equal to it, not have the rules changed to accommodate us but to be very much a part of it.

  5. Blimey, this guy’s my MP – didn’t vote for him – was going to write and ask how he’s going to vote on equal marriage – seems I may not have to! It’s a weird world where Tories are at the vanguard of lgbt equality …

    1. True, James.
      It does rather point up how shallow stereotyping is – be it of Tories, Christians, Muslims or any other perceivedly ‘distinctive’ minority group: including the LGBT

      1. I’ll admit, Ian, I’m as guilty as the next for stereotyping Tories – it comes from years of putting up with their hypocrisy and suffering their abusive, homophobic legislation. I’m delighted that these days we can rely on some (though by no means all) to be far more open-minded and willing to accept people for who they are. I’m still going to write to Oliver Colvile, but I’m going to praise him for his actions. Happy days!

  6. Jock S. Trap 2 Jul 2012, 11:43am

    Well done Oliver Colvile.

    It is one area I have questioned myself over the years esp since the introduction of Civil Partnerships and more so now with Marriage Equality on the way.

    I applaud this Bill and hope it see the way to fairness and equality.

  7. GingerlyColors 2 Jul 2012, 12:26pm

    If the wife of a Knight is called ‘Lady’, then what sort of title will be given to the same-sex partner of a Knight such as David Furnish should he become able to upgrade his Civil Partnership to Sir Elton John to full marriage status. Somehow ‘Man’ David Furnish doesn’t sound quite right. Will he also receive the title ‘Sir’ or will a new title be created for those who are in same-sex marriages to Knights and Peers?

    1. How about “Gentleman” (opposite of Lady)? If the US elected a female President, we would refer to her spouse as “First Gentleman” (or FGOTUS, which doesn’t roll off the tongue too well).
      “Presenting Sir Elton John and Gentleman David Furnish”

      1. That works. Equally in terms of written correspondence “Lord & Lord” or “Lady & Lady”, “Baron & Baron” works well- I would think?

        1. Jock S. Trap 2 Jul 2012, 3:57pm

          Indeed Stu, the system is easily included as you suggest with titles.

        2. The trouble with what you suggest, Stu, is that the assumption could be that both such Lords or Ladies are of equal status, which isn’t the case (unless both of them had independent titles) – this is why the husbands of female peers don’t get a title, or indeed why Prince Philip and Prince Albert weren’t made king, it’s to clarify whom the superior title belongs to.

          1. Such confusion already exists though, Rehan.

            A Lady could be the wife or a Knight or a female member of the House of Lords.

            So, having two Ladies (perhaps for two different reasons) in a relationship would not necessarily require nomenclature that differentiated on grounds of superiority.

          2. Yes, but a female member of the House of Lords is usually referred to as Baroness Soandso — Baroness Scott, Baroness Warsi and so on.

          3. A female member of the house of Lords is only a Baroness if a life peer – unless I misunderstand things?

          4. Are there female members of the House of Lords who are anything else? A few Scotswomen but hardly any Englishwomen are peeresses in their own right (ie by inheritance from their father).

          5. The only hereditary female peer I can name off the top of my head is Lady Saltoun of Abernethy.

            There are some – so the confusion does exist. It needs to be resolved and the LGBT partner issue does not add confusion, it gives another reason to resolve it.

          6. Ah, a Scot – they have different inheritance rights for women. And you’ll note her late husband had no title from his marriage to her (not that he needed it, since he seems to have been rather grander than she is!).

          7. If you are a member of the House of Lords (whether life peer or otherwise) then the rights and entitlements of being a member of the House of Lords should extend to you (and where applicable your partner) regardless of whether you are male or female, whether you are gay or straight or which country of the UK you are from (the House of Lords is, after all, part of the UK Parliament).
            There already exists inequality in terms of address of partners of members of the Lords determined by whether the member is male or female and apparently by which UK nation state they are from – the issue of whether the member is LGBT or not is one factor in this inequality – and it should not be.

            I hope the LGBT issue ensures the other (already existing) unfairness is resolved.

  8. What a minefield! There’s no precedent for men acquiring titles by marriage in Britain (other than when bestowed independently by the monarch, as with Prince Philip and Tony Armstrong-Jones), so I suspect wrangling over what partners of knights, life peers and men with inherited titles will keep a number of people happy for several years hence.

    1. There may be no precedent – but that does not mean it shouldn’t happen …

      1. No, of course not – but it’s still a minefield mainly, I’d guess, because a new rank or denomination will need to be made up.

        Still, they’ve changed the rules when it comes to adoption and inherited titles fairly recently so there’s no reason why the above shouldn’t come about … eventually. I’d guess consensus won’t be reached this side of 2017!

        1. 2017 – isn’t that a tad optimistic? ;-)

          1. Well yes, TBH I think 2022 is more likely!

  9. Rayne Van-Dunem 2 Jul 2012, 1:39pm

    I suggest “Something-Consort” as a way to cover spouses of peers. Like “Knight-Consort”, “Dame-Consort”, “Baron/Baroness(Lord/Lady)-Consort”,”(Vis)Count(ess)-Consort”, “Duke/Duchess-Consort” and so on.

    I think it’s the only sensible way to do this, as “consort” is pretty genderless as a description of princes or princesses married to kings or queens.

    1. Yes, but it’s still a minefield, not least because same-sex partners usually don’t change their surname. Would you suggest therefore that Lord (Waheed) Alli’s spouse becomes Lord Consort Charlie Parker? Bit of a mouthful …

      Sir-Consort David Furnish – yikes!

      1. Rayne Van-Dunem 2 Jul 2012, 2:34pm

        Well, as a slight aside, Lord Consort was a title in the Lost Tribe of Sith: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lord_Consort

        But I digress. You’re right about the surname issue, although (as an American), I’m not familiar with that many married British peer couples having differently-named surnames for reference.

        But then again, Duchess Camilla will be “princess consort” Camilla (a rare title, compared to queen consort or prince consort) when Prince Charles becomes King. So I think the mouthful only becomes apparent when attempting to verbally describe a peer (“Sir”, as opposed to “Knight”).

        1. The whole business with the Prince of Wales’s wife is that they felt it would be unseemly for her to become queen (not to mention the difficulty of her having a pagan, as opposed to a Christian, name), so they’re making it up as they go along (a good sign for this debate), though there’s the whole Germanic morganatic marriage business as a precedent I suppose.

          (Incidentally, peers are lords, knights are sirs.)

          1. That and shes the second wife – which technically is not recognised by the church.

          2. Surely the issue is that she’s divorced, with a still-alive ex-husband? As she married the PoW after Diana’s death there’s nothing that can be objected to in that respect.

    2. Jock S. Trap 2 Jul 2012, 2:41pm

      But doing that changes things for us. Surely that isn’t what we want? We want what is already available to all not the rules changed to accommodate us just because we just happen to be Gay, Bi, Lesbian etc.

      We’re not asking for difference we’re demanding equality, the same rights. Nothing needs to be changed apart from the fact that equality to the LGBT community is included.

      1. I’m with you, Jock but thinking about these things (and I am open to being corrected on my understanding!), I think there are a few areas of issues that would need clarification. For example, I believe the wife of a man who is knighted is referred to as a Lady. Whereas, the husband of a woman who is made a Dame receives no specific title. How would this work with a male/male couple and with a female/female couple? Would you, for example, have Sir John Smith and Sir James Brown but Dame Jane Smith and Ms Mary Green? Its not as straightforward as finding the appropriate nomenclature – there are some issues of protocol that would be problematic by bringing equality to LGBT people – but those issues need to be resolved.

        1. Jock S. Trap 2 Jul 2012, 4:05pm

          Indeed there is that inequality which makes it a issue for many more not just our community.

          I think the classic case was when Norma Major wife of Ex PM John Major was made a Dame with John Major getting a Sir some years later.

          It would be a simple case of the spouse being ‘Lady’ for Women and ‘Lord’ for Men but just as a spouse isn’t a peer but only via marriage with ‘Lady’ so the same is for ‘Lord’.

          Of course the sexist of all this needs to be sorted just as our angle on the issue.

      2. Rayne Van-Dunem 2 Jul 2012, 3:18pm

        Well, the lexicon of peerage doesn’t leave much maneuvering room for that, as most of the female spouses of male peers are considered “-esses”, if not Dame, Queen or Lady. Very gender-specific, and very prone to Gilbert & Sullivan-esque jibes of the worst kind.

        Before thinking of “-consort”, I considered “Companion” (at least for Knights’ spouses), until realizing that “Companion” is already taken as a title degree in, say, the Order of the Garter. Someone else mentioned “Gentleman” for the same, but wouldn’t that also be as much of a mouthful as “x-consort”? And what of higher peers (i.e,, Lord Mandleson)? What of their civil partners?

        Plus, if it changes things for British folks, it should democratize it and open “x-consort” to straight peers’ spouses who may dislike “duchess” or “lady” as their title (or Frenchwomen who prefer “Madame La Ministre”, or American women who prefer “Ms.”). Why not be the vanguards of the new language?

        1. straight peers’ spouses who may dislike “duchess” or “lady” as their title

          I think it’s safe to say there are very few of those!

  10. Peter & Michael 2 Jul 2012, 2:15pm

    We agree with Angela Eagle, if we wish for Equality, this must be transparent and every human being, whatever sexuality should be able to live their lives without repression nor prejudice. No doubt the conservative religious right wing will have something to say about that ! No doubt the stereotypes will persist but, we are called Mr & Mr in all our correspondence, So if one is called a Lord then the other half could become Lord Consort/Dame Consort ?

  11. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité (et Sororité). No titles for anyone, please. Much as I love Gilbert and Sullivan satire, dumping all this stuff in real life is long overdue.

    1. Can’t see that happening in the immediate future (or event he medium term) in the UK. However much some may feel it appropriate or desireable.

      Whilst titles remain in existance, equality should be brought to them.

    2. I can’t help but be perplexed at the continued fascination of our cousins across the pond for titles and such.
      We are still debating whether we should even bother having the Queen as “head of state”. A prominent businessman lost his citizenship here because he preferred being given the title of “Lord” by the Queen (god knows WHY he was given a title to start with, the damned guy’s a crook!).

      Titles and knighthoods all seem to simply reinforce the ages-old issues of class-distinction in the U.K. I sincerely don’t understand how so many people are still so enamored with this separative distinction. The funniest thing is those who seem to support these titles are the first to bemoan the plight of the Untouchables in India! It’s the same thing, for god’s sake. It’s an artificial class distinction. It is entirely irrelevant and meaningless.

      Oh well, I suspect I’ll get down-thumbed for this, but, I AM perplexed by it nonetheless.

      1. As the partner of a knight I can’t imagine in a million years using any title which I had not earned for myself. I would find it demeaning. I am guessing that the historical reason behind the current system is the wife as a homemaker or subservient/dependant being was entitled (no pun intended) to something as recognition. I am not.

        1. Tim Chapman 2 Jul 2012, 7:49pm

          Well, that would be your choice, dave, but it’s a choice you’re currently denied because you’re gay. That’s the point.

      2. While your point might be true about historic hereditary titles, pretty much all the titles that are given today are life peerages (and, as you probably know, knighthoods aren’t hereditary anyway), and they are usually given to reward some sort of service to the nation or public. Being knighted quite obviously can’t make you part of a caste, so your comparison with the South Asian caste systems is completely off the mark.

        1. That’s just my point. My partner earned his knighthood, and useful ithough it might be to get him into restaurants (when his secretary uses it, he wouldn’t dream of doing so), I didn’t earn it and it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to get a benefit, such as it is

          1. dave

            I hear what you are saying, and that speaks to me of a couple with integrity who appreciate the recognition that your partner has been given but are keen not to be seen to abuse it – and both of you should be commended for that.

            Some people who are awarded honours are given recognition for work which they have received significant support from their partners (this may or may not be the case in your instance – I have no way of knowing). It seems to me perfectly legitimate that where the system recognises that couples contribute together to the services of the arts, charity, education etc etc that the wife of a Knight should also be able to identify with that recognition. If this is accepted as appropriate for a male/female couple – then it should be appropriate for a same sex couple too. (Of course, it should also be the case for a mixed sex couple where the female is the recipient of the honour).

          2. Dave, my post was in reply to Mikey’s post, not yours. And just to be Devil’s Advocate for a moment, most wives of titled men did nothing to ‘earn’ their titles either, that doesn’t usually signal a reluctance to benefit from the association. The late Princess of Wales, to use a prominent example, had 2 titles, one derived from her father’s status, the other from her (one-time) husband’s. Should what’s sauce for the goose not be sauce for the gander?

    3. Jock S. Trap 2 Jul 2012, 4:10pm

      I disagree as this isn’t just a thing for the rich but for many it’s ordinary people being celebrated and thanked for doing extra ordinary things.

      Most people don’t do charity work, helping other etc to be recognised but it is Very important that we have this kind of honour to recognise the amazing work many of these people do tirelessly and honourable.

      For many this kind of honour is a thank you to those who make a difference and that has to be worth every bit of it’s importance.

  12. The system has always been unequal, even before taking gay couples into account, as only wives received a courtesy title and not husbands.

    My own preference would be for courtesy titles to be dropped altogether but that’s never going to happen, so this is a good move to even things up.

  13. de Villiers 2 Jul 2012, 11:28pm

    I am not sure I understand entirely how the English honours system works. In France before the revolution, everyone in the family became a noble. But that was a long time ago. In fact, it was almost a different world.

    However, the Right has really embraced gay rights when one of its members proposes extending titles to gay partners rather than abolishing the ancient titles system.

    1. This is a good place to look if you want to try and understand more about the (sometimes convoluted) British Honours system:

      http://www.debretts.com/people/honours.aspx

    2. Technically in the UK only the head of the house is noble, which is why the sons of hereditary peers, if MPs, would sit in the Commons (or indeed why Nancy Astor, married to a peer, could become the first woman to take her seat in the Commons). All other associated titles – Lady Diana Spencer, for example – are courtesy titles.

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