We need to put equal love on this Government’s agenda

This article was originally published in Issue 7 of OUT Bristol magazine

Lynne Featherstone - The Equalities Minister

It is simple, if you deny homosexual couples the right to marry, or heterosexual couples the right to have civil partnerships on grounds of their sexuality, you are discriminating. This has severe consequences.  Denying couples equal treatment in this sense is counter to the Human Rights Act. In a democracy all people should be equal in the eyes of the law, regardless of their sexual orientation. Unfortunately our Government does not see it in such a clear cut way.

The current Government is taking some very welcome steps forward, even if these are small and tentative steps. There is a move to add a section into the Equalities Act that would allow civil partnerships to be registered on religious premises.  Yet, within this, it clearly states, “For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act places an obligation on religious organisations to host civil partnerships if they do not wish to”.  Essentially, they are saying that no organisation will be forced; but faiths, like the Quakers, who support civil partnerships, could legally host ceremonies.

This clearly does not go far enough. The Government has said that it is consulting with all relevant actors on how to move forward from here.

The Equal Love campaign is highlighting not only the potential illegality of the Governments actions but also the contradictory and highly immoral nature of the Governments actions. We all need to publically back this campaign. With Wedding fever on boiling point we have never had a better chance to highlight this issue. We have a Royal Wedding and a Government consultation on homosexual marriage and civil partnerships! We cannot let this pass us by.

The consultation will run until June 23rd. It is essential that the Government hears a strong and clear voice in response to this consultation. We must all stand up and say, that we should all have equal access to marriage or civil partnerships, regardless of our sexuality.  The consultation can be found at www.equalities.gov.uk/news/civil_partnership.aspx. Equally, write to your MP, your local paper or simply your friends. Whatever you do, do not let this opportunity slip by.

Be under no pretence that those who are opposed to these equality measures are an organized and powerful lobbying force. If we do nothing, I can guarantee that this opportunity will be lost.

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4 Comments

Filed under Politics, sexuality

4 responses to “We need to put equal love on this Government’s agenda

  1. Would it acceptable to let homosexuals go to a “community worship sessions” and heterosexuals to go to “church” where they would do the same thing? Or to be more accurate, ban homosexuals from churchs

    Obviously not, this is because it is an arbitrary distinction that is based on a deep rooted prejudice. To break down that prejudice we need to break down all the ways it manifests itself. One of those is this distinction between “marriage” and civil partnerships

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  2. Absolutely same-sex couples should be able to marry, if the religious institution of their choice wishes to marry them. This should not be a decision for the state.

    In fact, I’m not certain that the state should have a role in marriage at all. As I explain in my blog (http://feminismfortories.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/marriage/) perhaps we should term all state-organised arragements “civil partnerships” and all religious arangements “marriages”.

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  3. Carolan

    Okay but in 1886 slavery was still legal in some countries – I think we’re all pretty clear now that that was a very bad thing. I’m not trying to draw comparisons between the two but quoting a legal opinion from 1886 is not a particularly convincing argument in my book. Times move on, I’d like to think that with universal education we’re all a little more enlightened and can see that discrimination is not cool on any grounds, sexuality included.

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  4. Sam Hatzigeorgiou

    Heya Steve

    I see here you are arguing for Civil Partnerships to be able to be marraiges (I think but not sure so sorry if I am wrong)

    I disagree with you on the point about Civil partnerships being marriages. Marriages are a joining of the union of 1 man and 1 women together. This was decided in 1886 Hyde V Hyde. Civil Partnerships are exactly the same as marriages but for same sex couples. The largest church’s in UK (CofE and Catholic I think) I do not believe will approve this.

    I am not saying ban Civil Partnerships but I dissagree that they should be called marriages. On the point about being blessed under religion I think this is up to th bishop and church. I can see this being ok with Quakers and Methodist but I can never see Catholic church blessing Homosexual couples

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