David Cameron went some way in the step towards equal marriage in his speech yesterday. But he still has some way to go in terms of equality look at the language that he uses [embolding mine]
Yesterday David Cameron in his speech
But for me, leadership on families also means speaking out on marriage. Marriage isn’t just a piece of paper. It pulls couples together through the ebb and flow of life. It gives children stability. It says powerful things about what we should value. So yes, we will recognise marriage in the tax system.
But we’re also doing something else. I stood before a Conservative conference once and I said it shouldn’t matter whether commitment was between a man and a woman, or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman and you applauded me for that. Five years on, we’re consulting on legalising gay marriage.
And to anyone who has reservations, I say this: Yes, it’s about equality, but it’s also about something else: commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and we support each other. So I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.
Compare this with the words that Nick Clegg said a fortnight ago.
Just look at what we’ve announced in the last five days. After decades of campaigning, and thanks to Lynne Featherstone: Equal marriage, straight or gay.
Nick only had to touch on it because the minister responsible Lynne Featherstone went into some detail on the Saturday of that conference.
We are a world leader for gay rights, but as this conference made clear last year with your call for equal marriage, there is still more that we must do.
That is why I am delighted to announce today that in March, this Government will begin a formal consultation on how to implement equal civil marriage for same sex couples.
And this would allow us to make any legislative changes necessary by the end of this Parliament.
Civil partnerships were a welcome first step – but as our constitution states, this party rejects prejudice and discrimination in all its forms.
And I believe that to deny one group of people the same opportunities offered to another is not only discrimination, but is not fair.
Conference, this is a Liberal Democrat policy – but now it is a policy being put into action.
However, as our party policy states this is still only the start. Indeed it is only part one of point one as the policy calls for:
- Open both marriage and civil partnerships to both same-sex and mixed-sex couples.
- To allow approved religious and humanist celebrants who wish to do so to legally solemnise and celebrate same-sex and mixed sex marriages and civil partnerships in any authorised place.
- To allow those individuals who wish to seek gender recognition or change their legally
recognised gender to remain in their current marriage or civil partnership without changing
any legal requirements.
- To establish a simple and straightforward process by which any existing civil partnership may be converted into a marriage or vice-versa without the need to dissolve the civil partnership or proceed with a divorce.
- To automatically recognise all non-UK same-sex marriages as marriage in the UK, and to subsequently remove non-UK same-sex marriages from the current schedule which equates them to civil partnerships in the UK.
- To continue to maintain the schedule equating non-UK same-sex civil unions or registered partnerships as civil partnerships in the UK.
- To add non-UK opposite-sex civil unions or registered partnerships to the schedule equating them to Civil Partnerships in the UK.
- To openly promote and encourage recognition of same-sex marriage and civil partnerships across the European Union, especially in countries where currently no laws exist
What the Prime Minister said yesterday was of course a welcome first step. Though he seemed to put it forward as a fait accompli.
On point 2 Section 46B of the Marriage Act 1994 states what is not allowed in a civil marriage:
(4) No religious service shall be used at a service on approved premises in pursuance of Section 26(1)(bb) of this Act.
I have had debates with Conservatives that surely allowing civil partnerships in religious premises saying surely this is equality. I always reply of course it isn’t it is merely a civil ceremony that is being allowed, there are all sorts of ramifications for then wanting to complete any sort of religious blessing if your church wishes to do so.
There is the whole question of Transgender and relationship retention through reassignment. As always with these things when it comes to Acts of Parliament is it always the T of LGBT that gets left behind. Indeed David Cameron while acknowledging women and women relationships even uses just the G to discuss his plans for ‘equal’ marriage.
Of course David cannot talk about equal marriage without allowing churches to carry out religious marriage, without tackling the transgender issues, without looking at civil partnerships for mixed-sex couples and without recognising those that exist but have been carried out elsewhere he has merely bitten into the surface. There is an awful lot more to be done to truly bring about equal marriage and for Dave to be able to get his linguistic issues sorted out.
On a similar note the Catholic Bishop of Paisley, Philip Tartaglia, tipped to be the next Archbishop of Glasgow was rather upset not just by Mr Cameron but also by the SNP. Saying that Catholic voters would desert the SNP if marriage equality became a reality. One does wonder where they would go. Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats and Greens all now are moving towards marriage equality as well.