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Comment: The same-sex marriage bill isn’t the end of the journey towards gay rights

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  1. Thanks for this analysis, Chris. It’s very readable and highly informative. It’s also much apprecated.

    1. Philip Breen 25 Jan 2013, 9:06pm

      This excellent and thought-provoking article helps us to align many of the struggles ahead. One subject related to the advancement of gay rights Professor Ashford did not cover here was the stigma attached to yet disclosed repealed gay offences by the DBS though, in other contexts, he has written about related themes. Such offences are the old and now repealed indecency and soliciting offences. These irrelevant disclosures need to be challenged since they cause such misery to gay people who, thereby, can’t find suitable work or serve in voluntary sectors. The pusillanimous gesture of Theresa May last year gave respite to some but, for the majority of those genuinely in need of her help because they are nowhere near retirement age, it served merely to confirm the problem by the specific prejudices that limited the amnesty, whose premises of continued illegality were applied, irrespective of the homophobic means used to obtain those convictions.

  2. legally male forever? 25 Jan 2013, 7:32pm

    This bill certainly not perfect for any trans woman in existing marriages where she is in a public sector pension scheme, as obtaining gender recognition may lose a significant amount of a wife’s pension should her trans spouse predecease her. She might lose her whole pension, or £000s each year, particularly for older people who are less able to compensate for such loss by virtue of their age. Curiously, the wife’s state pension rights are preserved but not for any other pensions (although private schemes usually have discretion to preserve her rights, and usually do so). It doesn’t seem logical to differentiate.

    So this Bill fails to work for me at present.

    1. Equality Network 26 Jan 2013, 12:02pm

      Yes, and unfortunately it’s even worse for trans people in the statutory minimum for private sector pensions (although some pension companies may choose to do better). Pension regulation is reserved to the UK Parliament, so the same problems apply to most pension schemes under the Scottish equal marriage bill too.

  3. LMF,there needs to be a transgender equality bill in that case. What would you suggest? A comprehensive bill, or series of bills that address the issues one by one?

  4. “Take for example the hypothetical Will by Great Uncle Bob who dies. He leaves his entire wealth to you, provided that you are married.”

    But that could be contested in court as an unreasonable condition, if the executor were silly enough to let it get to that stage.

    I fear we are being a little hysterical.

    1. When someone dies it is often greed and not good sense that takes charge.
      I would go as far as to say it is always greed rather than any kind of sense, and that it is most evident where families are concerned.

      1. Equality Network 26 Jan 2013, 12:08pm

        The Scottish equal marriage bill is the same on this. It is arguably fair that if Great Uncle Bob wrote his will at a time when marriage was only mixed-sex, that that was the definition of marriage he had in mind, and the law should not retrospectively alter the meaning of his will.

        Both the Scottish and English/Welsh bills provide that any will (or any other legally effective document) agreed after they come into effect, that mentions marriage, will automatically include same-sex and mixed-sex marriage.

  5. And I do wish trans people would stay out of gay issues, it’s a completely separate issue. One is gender, one is sexuality.

    We used to be LGB and I wish we still were.

    1. That There Other David 25 Jan 2013, 9:25pm

      What you have just posted is equivalent to the sort of thing we hear from anti-equality straight people. “Why can’t they just accept that they are different to us?” or “Why do they want to adopt children, they can’t have them naturally?”

      Well, no. Until equality is achieved under the law for all LGBT people this isn’t over.

      See the magic word there?

      Equality. That’s for all.

      1. Seconded!

      2. I understand what Seb means. Gay marriage is about gay people being able to be married. Not about trans people. That seems to be another kettle of fish altogether.

        However, I would hope trans people support our fight for marriage equality, just as I would, and do, support their fight for equality.

        I think the risk of bringing trans people into this lesbian and gay debate is that it serves to do little other than confuse people who aren’t part of the LGBT community, and sadly at the moment it’s hard enough to get them on side – and we do need that. It’s one fight at a time. Next on the list should be total equality for anyone wishing to change their gender (or has already done so). It’s appalling we need to legislate this kind of thing, but that’s the next issue I see coming.

        1. Tim Hopkins 26 Jan 2013, 7:06pm

          Have a look at the bill – you’ll see that schedule 5 is all about trans people, because equal marriage includes major legal changes for gender recognition law for trans people. The bill is about both LGB and T people, and the campaign is too!

        2. Julian Morrison 26 Jan 2013, 8:26pm

          Hint: trans people are often gay. Way the hell more often than the cis norm, in fact. Only about 20% of trans people are straight. (Source the recent-ish NTDS survey).

          Hint also: trans people transition in marriages. They transition, then want to marry. They do kinds of transition that the law doesn’t have rules for, such as non-binary, and then want to marry. And right now the law about trans people in marriages is rubbish. Officialdom can, right now, ignore your gender and flatly insist you still are who you clearly aren’t, because you refuse to divorce.

          So no, fuck you, this is about trans people being able to be married, or stay married, too.

          1. Julian, I am one of those gay trans people, so you’re absolutely right. I’m getting really bloody tired of having to repeat myself again and again to people who just do not realise there are also gay trans people. Plus this IS about gender as well, because before when trans people wanted to transition, if they were married to a partner of a different gender, they would have to get divorced before the state would legally recognise their gender. That’s something that this bill rectifies, at least.

  6. You mean there is more whining to come?

    1. Spanner1960 26 Jan 2013, 1:15am

      There will always be whiners.
      Be rest assured about that.

  7. Even as this ends a lot of legal differences in the law, I’m sure no-one realistically expects this to end the fight for equality

    Many minority groups have already got legal equality and legal protections – but still face prejudice and bigotry. Bigotry isn’t going to end – legal equality merely lays the foundation for societal change which is so hard to achieve when the law of the land is saying “actually, yeah they are lesser people”

    This is a big step forward but we’ve got further to go

  8. Spanner1960 26 Jan 2013, 1:13am

    Of course it isn’t the end.

    What the hell would the likes of Tatchell have to moan about? These people have made a career out of complaining.
    Sometimes making an honest point, but often simply whinging to make themselves noticed and a means to justify their existence.

    The biggest worry many gay people have these days is that they will become completely accepted by society, and consequently become utterly ignored.

    1. Yes, and I look foreward to that day much as racism ended when slavery was abolished…….oh wait!

  9. GingerlyColors 26 Jan 2013, 7:17am

    The introduction of same-sex marriages in the UK which will only be a matter of time will mean that there is little else for us to fight for on the domestic legal front but the battle is far from over.
    We still have to fight for greater social acceptance, something that we have made considerable progress on but sadly we still hear of too many homophobic incidents. Then of course there is the struggle for LGBT rights in other countries. The proposed federal law against so called gay propaganda in Russia is of great concern and 70 countries still criminalise homosexuality and several still have state-sponsored murder for gay people. The fight will not be over until even the likes of Iran and Saudi Arabia bring in marriage equality but sadly I doubt if any of us will live to see that day but it is something worth aiming for.

  10. Gay Activist Paul Mitchell 26 Jan 2013, 7:17am

    Progress in never ending!

    What about the current ban on gay and bisexual men from donating blood?

    That is the next step on LGBT rights after equal civil marriage!

    1. Spanner1960 26 Jan 2013, 10:39am

      If you want REAL progress, how about teaching gay men to keep their dicks in their pants and practising safer sex?

      Rights come with responsibilities, and until gay men can statistically prove they are no more at risk from STDs than everyone else, they should be banned from donating blood.

      1. andy preston 28 Jan 2013, 2:14am

        .”they should be banned from donating blood”
        they already are.
        But you can be pretty sure that one thing that will be censored from ‘equality’ sex education to children, will be the fact that a gay relationship carries with it a 9 fold increased risk of contracting HIV/Aids and that this is the leading component in the current epidemic in UK
        also the added fact that the epidemic among heteros is largely caused by bi-sexual relationships passing it on….
        There is a quite likely correlation with the campaign for gay ‘marriage’, in that the glaring and telling minuscule take up ( less than 4% over 7 yrs) of CP and corresponding high promiscuity record,rather than being dealt with by self-effort, could be instead subsumed into hetero majority institution of marriage, where it would be less obvious, and done at the expense of heteros.

        1. Well encourage monogamous marriage for gay and straight alike.

          (The take up for CPs is currently, at about 2% of all new unions per annum roughly on a par with the gay proportion of the population BTW so in time the proportion of married or CPed gay [eople is likely to approach straights).

          You’re trying to have it both ways. Castigating gay people for supposed promiscuity, while wanting to deny us access to the main institution intended to promote monogamy.

          1. andy preston 28 Jan 2013, 10:23am

            ”You’re trying to have it both ways”- looks like the boot is on the other foot Caspar…since gays already have CP (which they hardly use) but now want ‘marriage’ as well?
            ”….while wanting to deny us access to the main institution intended to promote monogamy.”-this is the usual ‘victimhood’ ploy, which turns so many people off…why do you keep flogging this overplayed dead horse?
            Since the ‘new marriage’ designed by Stonewall is simply Civil Partnership for all (whether they like it or not) renamed ‘Civil marriage’….it is more or less exactly what gays have already…it’s all the straights who would have to change (!) – but it seems that for most gays the rights of heteros are irrelevant.Traditional gender specific Marriage is the ‘main institution’ because straights comprise the main (97%) part of the population.The reality is that take up of gays for monogamous relationship has been a big flop-after 7 yrs and all the drama, less than 4% of gays ‘got on the bus’

            – .

        2. Well the system won’t let me reply to your last post.

          I actually think CPs should be replaced by marriage.

          As I pointed out the civil partnership rate for gay people on a year by year basis is roughly proportional to the percentage of gay people, and the number of gay people in CPs is rising every year. One of the key points about marriage, is that it is there not just to reflect behaviour but to influence It was bound to take time for the integration of gay people into the mainstream to take effect, but it is happening, and marriage equality will make it happen faster.

          The point about having it both ways is that you are happy to rubbish gay people for not living up to the standards of marriage while denying us access to marriage. That’s a bit like shutting pupils out of a school and then denouncing them as being unqualified.

  11. An excellent piece!

  12. Helge Vladimir Tiller 26 Jan 2013, 9:26am

    Of course, of course—these are very obvious matters to persons who have been in “the business” for several decades——Agree with You !

  13. Thanks to Chris for this analysis. There is still a lot of work to do. The religious lobby will not give up after this. They will do all they can to stop kids learning about LGBT people and same sex relationships in schools. Thus the definition of ‘religious freedom’ will be a hot-button issue. Chris’s battle will be with groups like SPUC (rabidly anti-choice), CARE, etc and Christian Concern – who are planning to appeal in the McFarlane case; there will be cases of rights of UK citizens abroad – are married couples’ rights recognised in other EU countries for instance?

  14. In other words gay people weren’t interested in “long term monogamous relationships” all along.

    1. Speak for yourself. I know I am.

      1. Dave North 26 Jan 2013, 1:59pm

        And me.

        21 years so far and counting.

        1. Open or closed?

    2. andy preston 28 Jan 2013, 1:43am

      -that’s pretty obvious
      since over the past 7 years after CP enactment, less than 4% of gays have ‘got on the bus’ of legal committed relationship, following the previous campaign of how ‘essential’ this legislation was for gay relationships ….
      the take up for gay ‘marriage’ would likely be even less, since a large number of those gays who have taken up CP don’t want gay ‘marriage’ because they find it ‘patronising and demeaning’, and say that they don’t need to ape heteros in order to prove the validity of their relationships.
      Of course, they (like Ben Bradshaw) are abused told to shut up, and airbrushed out …..

      1. So you support the rights of those gay people who are anti marriage (and who won’t in any case be compelled to marry) over those of us who support marriage?

        That seems a rum way to defend marriage…

        1. andy preston 28 Jan 2013, 10:40am

          Caspar – this is just a piece of smoke & mirrors propaganda isn’t it?
          So, the proposition is, to abolish traditional gender specific Marriage, and substitute Civil Partnership for all -renamed ‘Civil marriage’…and then say that anyone who doesn’t support this is ‘not supporting marriage’…
          This looks like an identity/insecurity complex fix at the expense of heteros doesn’t it?
          Those gays who refuse to go along with this fakery are simply saying that they are secure in their identity, and that their relationships don’t need apeing and mimicking of heteros to validate them.

          1. I find it amusing that you seem to endorse the old fashioned position of some radical gay separatists that gay people who want to pair up for life are simply mimicking heterosexuals. I’ve thought for a while that the fanatics on either side of the debate have more in common with each other than they like to think, each glorying in “identity politics”.

            No it’s more that many of us like marriage, and approve of it, and think that society will only be the better if more people, including gay people, sign up top it.

  15. Craig Denney 26 Jan 2013, 11:14am

    What about the discrimination from my county council!

    Council spending!

    South Gloucestershire Council is lead by religious people and spending on their privileged communities is in the ten’s of millions but spending on the LGBT community is virtually nothing in comparison.

    You say bullying in schools for instance, well surly over the years councils have had a hand in the discrimination to create the environment of prejudice.

    I would like to take my council to court, but will Stonewall help me?

  16. I agree that many major LGB issues remain, including bullying, asylum, historic convictions, healthcare/HIV and social attitudes. We’re far from equality in Northern Ireland. And trans people suffer huge discrimination which must be addressed.

    But what Mr Ashford calls “identity erasure”, I call opening up a broader range of identities.

    Sexual freedom was once a big part of “what gay rights is about” – but it isn’t any more. Gay people are about to get the chance to be included in the definition of traditional, conservative sexual behaviour. Many will seize that enthusiastically. Does that make them less gay?

    I personally support sexual freedom and liberalisation in many of the areas outlined in the penultimate paragraph, and my experiences as a lesbian have contributed to that view. But campaigns on those issues will require broad alliances. Stonewall is unlikely to be a part of that, and nor should they be. These are no longer “gay issues” – and that is to be welcomed.

  17. Chris, you have provided some interesting reflections here, so thank you for that.

    However, I do wish you had NOT written:

    ” Battles relating to pornography, the continued criminalisation of consensual sexual acts, re-constructing our ideas of relationships in relation to sex, monogamy and the illusion that only ‘couples’ might want to enter into a state-sanctioned partnership, are just a handful which spring to mind.”

    I fear homophobes in the Commons may brandish such desires as evidence that they are right in claiming that this Bill is the thin end of a wedge and that therefore there is good reason to kill it.

    Let’s shut up about fantasies of five people having a right to get married.

    1. I agree, but would go further.

      Issues like monogamy vs polyamory etc. have absolutely nothing to do with gay rights per se. You will find gay and straight people on both sides of the divide on issues like this and I resent this attempt to hijack the cause of gay equality in pursuit of a quite different agenda.

      If Chris wants to campaign on issues like this then that’s his right. I’m sure he will find plenty of straight allies, but he can count on the opposition of gay people like me.

      1. andy preston 28 Jan 2013, 3:17am

        In fact , contrary to a lot of gay rights lobbying propaganda the majority of people in the UK are not anti gay, indeed it is difficult to imagine how so much liberation and pro gay legislation could have been enacted here if it were, – and which gives us the best pro-gay integration in the world – better even than Germany and most of the USA. But the Poll figure on gay ‘marriage’ are unusually negative – 55% for and 45% against (only 10% of which are ‘religious’ objections’- although you’d never believe it from some of the PN posters comments) What that large unrepresented 35% remainder are concerned about, are the unintended consequences of abolishing gender specific Marriage, and substituting Civil Partnership for all (whether they like it or not) renamed ‘Civil marriage’ – who’s default position is ‘any two people who love one another’ – and on the back of which a whole load of fellow travellers and their agendas will suddenly emerge and ride in.-already in Canada polygamy demand

        1. I think the Swedes, Danes, Dutch and Norwegians (to name just four) would be surprised at the claim that the UK was ahead of them.

          The arguments being raised are largely spurious. E.g. would-be polygamists (who seem vanishingly small in number) are actually demanding a lot more than equality in expecting that the state will provide special arrangements to support multiple partners. It is also perverse to suggest that allow intended to reinforce the principle of monogamy (i.e. SSM) should somehow reinforce the arguments for the exact opposite.

          Each change to the law should be argued on its merits, otherwise we are effectively saying that marriage should never change.

          1. andy preston 28 Jan 2013, 11:24am

            ”to name just four”..(out of 196 Countries in the world)
            – because that’s all you can name, isn’t it Casper?
            And, surprise surprise…these Countries have the highest promiscuity, lowest marriage rates , and most single parents in the world. I’m not saying this is all down to gay ‘marriage’, but that it is such Countries where marriage is held such low esteem that the concept of gay ‘marriage’ is being promoted and are held up as examples – weird that, isn’t it? In Sweden, the only reason that marriage rates have not plummeted even further is that it has been swamped with Moslem immigration. ”Strengthen the ties that bind us”…ha ha.. Cameron does come out with some PR bullshit doesn’t he? Desperate to prove he’s ‘modern’ and get those mystery missing Votes…

          2. andy preston 28 Jan 2013, 11:41am

            ”to name but four” ( out of 196 Countries in the world)
            – because that’s all you can name isn’t it Caspar?
            And…surprise surprise…those Countries have the lowest marriage rates, the highest promiscuity and highest numbers of single parents.
            I’m not arguing that is is all down to gay ‘marriage’, simply that it is those Countries where marriage is held in such low esteem that are being held up as a totem in favour gay’marriage’ – weird isn’t it?
            And the only reason that marriage rates in Sweden and Norway haven’t plummeted even further is that they has been swamped by Moslem immigration.
            ”Strengthen the ties that bind us” – what a PR scammer / bullshitter Cameron is eh?….desperately using gays as patsies to try to drum up those mysteriously ‘missing Votes’
            And you are taken in this crap? In politics Caspar, there is no such thin as a free lunch/ride….
            watch gay/straight relationships being set back decades by this con….

          3. andy preston 28 Jan 2013, 11:52am

            Sorry Caspar- I posted once and it didn’t show- hence the double posting.
            But, to address another point in your posting above – haven’t you somewhat lost sight of the purpose of this article, that you yourself debunked at one point? –
            YOU – ”It is also perverse to suggest that allow intended to reinforce the principle of monogamy (i.e. SSM) should somehow reinforce the arguments for the exact opposite.”
            ARTICLE ”Legislative victory should not mean identity erasure. There remain numerous sexual freedoms to campaign on – yes sexual – that’s what gay rights is about, not merely a civil rights campaign – and there are battles still to be won. Battles relating to pornography, the continued criminalisation of consensual sexual acts, re-constructing our ideas of relationships in relation to sex, monogamy and the illusion that only ‘couples’ might want to enter into a state-sanctioned partnership, are just a handful which spring to mind” Obviously, for some, it is not ‘perverse’ is it.

        2. “ARTICLE ”Legislative victory should not mean identity erasure. There remain numerous sexual freedoms to campaign on – yes sexual – that’s what gay rights is about, not merely a civil rights campaign – and there are battles still to be won. Battles relating to pornography, the continued criminalisation of consensual sexual acts, re-constructing our ideas of relationships in relation to sex, monogamy and the illusion that only ‘couples’ might want to enter into a state-sanctioned partnership, are just a handful which spring to mind” Obviously, for some, it is not ‘perverse’ is it.”

          And that is precisely why I argue AGAINST that particular nonsense that the article was esposuing, just as I argue against the nonesense that you are spouting from the opposite direction.

          I think that puts me in the moderate middle ground.

  18. I think it would be very foolish to believe problems for LGBT people will be over with the introduction of this bill. We need to be tackling the sources of why people think it’s OK to discriminate against us and why LGBT is such a negative thing in society. That means examining the causes and thoughts behind homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and other oppressions. One thing I’m definitely concerned about is the culture of prejudice against gay, trans and femininity in schools, which won’t be solved by letting LGBT adults get married. Also, while the bill will help trans people get their gender more legally recognised, we have even more problems and prejudice to worry about, particularly within the media and the medical system.

  19. That’s my pic! (@jjswin) :-)

  20. andy preston 28 Jan 2013, 1:51am

    ”there are battles still to be won. Battles relating to pornography, the continued criminalisation of consensual sexual acts, re-constructing our ideas of relationships in relation to sex, monogamy and the illusion that only ‘couples’ might want to enter into a state-sanctioned partnership, are just a handful which spring to mind.”
    No one has the honesty here to point out that this exposes the hypocrisy of those who use the ‘slippery slope fallacy’ in countering the concerns of the hetero majority.which clearly cannot be about gays actually getting married since less than 4% gays have taken up CP over 7 yrs

    1. My position is perfectly consistent.
      I oppose the nonsense of the article, attempting to hijack the debate for a quite duifferent agenda, just as I oppose the nonsense you spout from the opposite direction.

      And as I said before, marriage and civil partnerships are not just a market commodity to satisfy “demand”, but about changing attitides in the long term.

      I am confident that with marriage equality we can then concentrate on encouraging more people to get married and stay married.

  21. andy preston 28 Jan 2013, 12:23pm

    Dear gays,
    please realise that the current government preoccupation with gay ‘marriage’ is simply a PR scam by Cameron to try to get Votes by using gays as the patsies.
    It is deliberately targeted at those who want acceptance and integration – but will produce exactly the opposite.
    The result will be,and already is, conflict and division, and endless legal prosecutions of straights who might otherwise have been supportive.. It can set back gay / straight relationship by decades.
    It says it aims to give ‘marriage’ to gays – but it actually gives a fake – Civil partnership for all, renamed ‘Civil marriage’. So, gays would get what they have already ..plus a ‘word’
    and straights lose completely what they have at present…together with a shed load of hybrid unknown and unintended consequences inserted into the natural social structure of society, akin to GM crops and genetically engineered animals in the food chain.
    This may look like a free lunch – but it’s not..

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