Saturday, 2 October 2010

Marriage Equality Debate: It's The Little Things That Annoy Me

The Stonewall debacle has done one good thing. It’s finally propelled the marriage equality debate into the consciousness of a larger group of people than previously. Suddenly I’m seeing disinterested parties sitting up and asking, “Why the hell haven’t we got marriage equality and why is Stonewall not supporting it?”.

However, as with all things, I’m still slightly perplexed by the media coverage of marriage equality in the United Kingdom. Be it in Attitude’s latest edition or today’s article in the Independent, the stories seem to lack actual facts and any real journalistic critic of press releases and interviews from those pro or anti equality.

1) Hardly any article even mentions the REAL differences between civil partnerships and marriage. They take as fact the idea that civil partnerships are equality and all the marriage equality proponents are after is a “rebranding”. This is fundamentally false, although I suspect it’s more from ignorance than through deceit. From international recognition, through transgender rights and into the murky world of private pension provision, civil partnerships do not offer the same protections as marriage does. The message civil partnerships are the same as marriage is one that must be challenged every step of the way.

2) They accept Stonewall’s version of events without discussing evidence to the contrary. Ben Summerskill has a long record of making negative statements about marriage equality. Stonewall have been actively consulting with the Government over amending the Gender Recognition Act to solve transgender rights issues arising from marriage inequality, which undermines the fight for marriage equality for all. If that’s not actively opposing marriage equality I don’t know what is! And that’s not even mentioning the fact Stonewall, who’ve made clear they want nothing to do with transgender rights, don’t even have a moral right to be part of any consultation on the future of the GRA. Instead the press parrot Stonewall’s badly thought through press releases that they aren’t opposing marriage equality but “consulting” on it.

3) The acceptance of the “there are more important things” argument without comment is absolutely abhorrent. LGBT rights can’t be a “pick’n’mix” set of rights, chosen by which is politically convenient. They are all interrelated. How can we give LGBT youth hope for a better future if they are depressed or being bullied when they can see that their future is going to be very different to their peers. We must confront bullying head on, and the recent suicides in the USA show why, but we must also work tirelessly on fighting for a world that is fit for our children whoever they grow up to be and whoever they grow up to love. Work on one side of that equation to the detriment of the other will destroy the results of both!

4) Citing Boris Johnson as a marriage equality supporter. When he was confronted he thought civil partnerships were marriage, as the Mayor of London’s office clarified the day after Pride. He is not on record as supporting actual marriage equality (if he does or not, I cannot say). I wish they’d research their “facts” before printing them.

I might be petty, I might be hoping for too much, but God this stuff drives me to distraction.

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

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