Thursday, 8 July 2010

Never Trust That A Politician Knows What They Are Talking About

I'll admit that when Boris Johnson was quoted making positive remarks at the start of pride, I quickly warmed to him. Unfortunately, it would seem, his exchange with Peter Tatchell was doomed from the start as the two of them were coming from different assumptions.

Tatchell is very clearly a campaigner for reform. He wants marriage equality (and, like me, a little bit more!). Boris Johnson is sadly ill-informed and was of the opinion that civil partnerships were "gay marriage" and so when he answered the question, he saw no problem saying he supported it thinking that it's hardly controversial to support something that already existed. Because they were talking at cross purposes Johnson's comments were misreported.

In what can be no clearer an illustration that civil partnerships AREN'T gay marriage, a statement was released from the London Mayor's to clarify that what he actually meant was that he supported civil partnerships.

Boris Johnson is hardly the first to be confused by this. In fact I'd say the majority of LGB people (I suspect transgender people know by bitter experience the difference) don't know the difference. This is the confusion caused by Labour's idiotic decision to pursue civil partnerships rather than marriage equality. And it's a confusion that any one who wants marriage equality has to try and get past. It's not easy.

And worse is the "I don't see the point" nonsense being sprouted by politicians. For instance we have this from Ed Miliband.

2. Would you allow gays to be legally married, rather than just be registered as a civil partnership?
He hesitates. “I will listen to what people have to say on going further than that if there is a demand. No one has yet put that to me in the leadership election.” He said his feeling was that not enough people were asking for the policy.
So Ed Miliband, a member of the Labour party who introduced civil partnerships, and caused the confusion which lead to fewer calls for equality, states the reason he doesn't support marriage equality is because there's little call for it. Yeah. That's a low blow.

And then you have his very confused brother, David.

While the UK allows non-religious civil partnerships, some couples and campaigners believe they are not adequate and are calling for the right for civil marriage, with faiths given the option of performing ceremonies.
Mr Miliband said: "I've not got a closed mind on that. Many of my friends who are gay have had civil partnerships. They – and I – think of them as completely equal. I think it's seen as gays and lesbians are equal.
"The last civil partnership I went to, there was no sense of all of this being anything other than the most complete private and public commitment to devotion.
One reader wanted to ask about the law which forces trans men and women to divorce their spouses in order to be legally recognised in their new gender.
Mr Miliband is at first confused but after his train apparently exits a tunnel he is back on the line with a confident answer.
"My opinion is that we should respect the wishes of the couple and that parliament shouldn't interfere," he says.
So several issues here. 1) just because people think civil partnerships are equal doesn't mean they are. 2) how will you respect the wishes of a transgender couple if marriage is defined by gender?? 3) why's it okay for Parliament to not interfere in one couple's wishes but alright in the case of LGB people?? and 4) talking to your middle class gay friends is not something to base policy on.

So you have to ask yourself: are these politicians really confused? Or are they, in fact, playing it safe and trying to avoid committing to gay marriage so they can court the votes of prejudiced people? I'm beginning to form the opinion that it may well be the latter. And that marriage equality might still be a long way off yet.

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist


igaylord said...

There's a sense in which politicians and others of goodwill (or otherwise) who describe Civil Partnerships as "Marriage" are pushing us back into the closet.

By emphasizing that we have Civil Partnerships we assert our rights and claim proper respect for what and who we are.

But I am I suppose a liberal - so yes, we should have the right to choose!

Jae said...

If it was just about choice, I'd probably be far less annoyed. It's not. The effects of the inequality are felt across the transgender "community", and the difference in legal terms rankles greatly.