Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Marriage Equality: Coming To A Town Near You Soon

Well maybe not soon... but I'm beginning to feel the ball is really rolling now. In England and Wales, we have even the Home Secretary herself echoing her Equality Minister's words in a speech at the weekend at a Stonewall event *spit*:

Civil Partnership legislation, for example, marked a great advance for gay rights in this country.

And we will go further – we will implement section 202 of the Equality Act which will remove the ban on civil partnership registrations being held on religious premises.

No religious group will be forced to host a civil partnership registration, but for those who wish to do so this is an important step forward, not just for LGB rights but also for religious freedom. Let’s not forget that this amendment was brought forward in response to religious groups such as the Quakers and Liberal Jews wanting to celebrate civil partnerships.

Having listened to stakeholders it is clear from many that there is also a desire to move towards equal civil marriage and partnerships and we will consult further on how legislation can develop, working with all those who have an interest in this area.

Given we had former Labour ministers just last summer telling us there was no call for marriage equality, having the Coalition Government admit there is some (and in doing so on several occasions even at the Ministerial level) we are getting somewhere. Now we must seek to ensure the consultation *groan* is done as quickly as possible and comes out favourably. This weekend I shall begin annoying these key stakeholders (that's coded speak for unelected bodies of self important so and so's [shorthand: Stonewall]) to ensure there's no doublespeak like some managed at the civil partnerships consultation.

And in Scottish news (hurrah, we're getting Scottish news... hopefully the Holyrood elections will bring much more) the opening salvo for the final battle for marriage equality has been made by the ECHR I shall be ensuring I annoy my Scottish friends into annoying their representatives even more than I have in the past. There's been some good feedback and some bad. The SNP and Tory MSPs seemed the least likely (quelle surprise, nationalists and conservatives not liking equality) to have a positive response in replies I saw to letters from their constituents on the subject last year. Let's hope for better this time round.

Now, who is brave enough to start the fight in Northern Ireland?

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

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