Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Year In Marriage Equality

Time for a look back on the year through the eyes of the struggle for marriage equality in the United Kingdom. What a year it's been!

In January, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg came out in favour of marriage equality being the first leader of a major party to do so.

In April I gave up hope for any change, based purely on fact I had no visions of anything other than a Tory or Labour Government being in power after the upcoming general election. I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised to find out how wrong I was, although that was more to do with events rather than being factually inaccurate (I cannot imagine marriage equality being mentioned under majority Governments of the big parties).

In what can only be described as a breakthrough, not more than a week after I wrote the piece above, marriage equality was mentioned in the general election. Sadly it was mainly just a lot of flip floping from the Tories. By the end of the election it was clear that only the Lib Dems supported marriage equality.

Of course we all know what happened in May, with the Coalition coming to power. In June they released an LGBT policy document that finally pushed me to step up my game.

Using every avenue I could find I decided to get marriage equality mentioned EVERYWHERE I could.

I used Your Freedom to create a rather popular policy suggestion. I wrote letter's to Lynne Featherstone, Ed Miliband and David Miliband. I used Yoosk to ask questions of the Labour leadership candidates and Simon Hughes. The response from Simon Hughes got national media coverage, the Labour leadership candidates all eventually came out in support of marriage equality and LabourList agreed marriage equality was now the "next step". At the end of July the Government held sit down talks with "interested parties" to discuss the future of civil partnerships.

It was at this meeting that Stonewall finally made a PR wrong step which would snowball over the summer.  Their inability to make a decision on marriage equality helped bring the issue to a wider audience and created real anger in the LGBT community. This prompted other strange reactions, such as Chris Bryant's weirdly forgetful piece in GT on the subject. A man who told Parliament he doesn't want marriage for same sex couples suddenly claims to always have supported it. Hmm...

Marriage equality became official Lib Dem policy in September and one of the parties new recruits, Stephen Gilbert MP, became marriage equalities champion at Westminster.

In October Stonewall finally came out in support of marriage equality and one of the biggest moves of the year occurred with the Equal Love campaign's launch. Lead by Peter Tatchell the campaign has spent the time since then trying to get heterosexuals civilly partnered and same sex couples married. They are now taking their battle to the courts.

In a nice end to the year, marriage equality was mentioned, by Stephen Gilbert, in the adjournment debate in the House of Commons.

What's the future look like? Rosy, but not certain. The fight must continue. Equal Love UK are doing the hard work but we should all get involved in continuing to push for marriage equality. If we do 2011 might just be the year we've been waiting for.

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

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