Saturday, 31 March 2012

Tories Playing Politics With The Union

There is not many issues I consider more important than unionism. I know, I'm not as vocal about it as I used to be. I felt it was the one thing the Tories could be relied upon to defend. They might spend most of their time supporting their rich, business buddies and policing the sexual mores of the population but when it came to the Union, the Tories would be there come what may. Alas...

It has becoming increasingly obvious, in the years since 1997's decimation of the Tories in Scotland and the introduction of devolution, that the Tories were starting to embrace their inner-Little Englander. But I didn't realise just how far the rot had set in until today's latest instalment in the Peter "Cash for Cameron" Cruddas was revealed.

It would seem the Tories' unionism is somewhat lukewarm now and they are looking forward to a SNP victory in the independence referendum where they can snub their noses at an independent Scotland's demands!

“We, as a party, have to be seen to be fighting to keep the Union together. Even if we don’t agree with it, because at the end of it all, if the Scots say we’re out of here and they want to go independent, we can turn around and say it’s not what we wanted, it’s not what we campaigned for, you can’t have this, you can’t have that, and you can get on with it.”

That is a quote that will play right into the SNP's hands, and one that really shows the lack of principle, belief and passion in the Tories today. That's not just a problem for them, these last two weeks of petrol panics, pasty taxes and other such ridiculous petty little battles show just how devoid of focus and policies mainstream politics is (and George Galloway's victory shows how soft support for the Big Three parties is). But of all issues, the very future of our country is one on which you'd hope the Tories could at least set out a clear position rather than sit on the fence.

It is clear the Liberal Democrats must make the case for unionism in the Coalition. We have a vision of a federal Union, one that enables freedom for our nations and regions whilst keeping our country together. It's a bold, sensible and practical solution to the current constitutional mess left by Labour. We need to be screaming it from the rooftops. It's time for the Lib Dems to replace the cynical, foolish and poorly lead Conservative and Unionist party and become the new party of the Union.

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

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Concerns Over Marriage Equality and #CashForCameron

Looks like both sides of the Atlantic have their fair share of underhand anti-marriage activists. 

Over here we've had a bit of confusion. Christian Concern at first attempted to have us believe that, as part of the current "Cash for Cameron" scandal, a Tory donor had paid to influence the party in favour of marriage equality. They have since removed that article but can still be seen here. The reason is because blogger Archbishop Cranmer (No friend of LGBT equality, he) has revealed it actually seems like the donation was aimed against marriage equality instead!

Even more concerning is the suggestion that this actual had some effect on the current consultation questionnaire! It would be rather scandalous indeed if this were true, and I truly hope our Lib Dem Equality Minister takes a look into this matter. The accusation that the Tories may be attempting to dilute and even postpone moves to marriage equality is one that needs serious investigation.

We need to keep a close eye on this one.

In the USA the National Organisation Against For Marriage appears to have been playing divide and conquer, thinking it's clever to organise race groups against LGBT groups.
The strategic goal…is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots… 
The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity - a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.
Charming tactics indeed!

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

Monday, 26 March 2012

My Disappointment With Tim Farron Grows

When Tim Farron was first elected as Lib Dem President, there was a great deal of disquiet in the Lib Dem Twitter circles I frequent. This disquiet was especially strong with regards to his LGBT record. I didn't share this feeling, and I was quite happy to come to his defense. I even passed around this link from Stephen Gilbert to help allay fears about his history.

I was confident he would be a good counterweight to the Orange Bookers in the leadership and would keep them honest. And on that point he's been moderately successful. Unfortunately on other matters that disquiet some expressed about him has begun to erode my confidence in him as a person.

First up was his use of interns from CARE and his subsequent defence of them. This worried me because it seems quite clear that they 1) vigorously oppose Lib Dem policies on marriage equality and 2) there are rather serious concerns about their treatment of Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw (no friend of this blog!). I'm not saying he shouldn't have interns from CARE, I'm a great believer in freedom of belief religiously or politically, but I do have grave concerns about someone who takes CARE interns being Lib Dem President! But I kept my mouth shut, thinking everyone has their little quirks. Some MPs support Stonewall after all...

But then comes today's news. Tim Farron, along with Tory and Labour MPs, wants the ASA to allow organisations to state that people can be healed by prayer in their adverts. Again perhaps people should have this right, and they certainly should have the right to practice their rather optimistic beliefs. But if the ASA allows that, then what exactly is the point of the ASA? I thought one of their main tasks was to ensure false claims weren't made in advertising, but if prayer is accepted as healing people then what right does the ASA have to tell ANYONE that what they state in their adverts is false?

Is Tim Farron really suggesting we should do away with the ASA? And Daniel Furr makes an excellent point too:
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and spiritual intervention in medical cases are a fine example. People who are sick and require medical treatment should see a doctor, not God.
Again, if Tim Farron wants to propose we allow anyone to claim anything that they believe to be true in advertising then that's his prerogative but it's left me unable to support him and I will actively support opposition to him. His attempts to amend the way the ASA deals with advertisement claims brings his beliefs, unfortunately, into conflict with rationality and reason. And I stand on the side of rationality and reason.

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

Friday, 23 March 2012

One Bad Argument Against Marriage Equality And One Sensible One(!)

Two Tories. Two arguments against marriage equality. Two completely different views. Shall we take a look? Just to screw with our chronology let's start with the most recent one first. Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet here in Kent, has come out against marriage equality quite forcefully in the most recent edition of the Thanet Extra (available online for this week only here on page 14). His arguments against are, sadly for him, flimsy.
Last week I was asked by a party colleague, a gentle man who I respect and like, why I wanted to stop him and his same-sex partner from being blessed in his Catholic church. 
My answer was that it is for precisely the same reason that I and my wife and soul-mate, Suzy, were united in a registry office and not by the Anglican Church of which I am proud to be a member. 
As a divorcee I may not re-marry in my church. Those are the laws of my faith. I acknowledge them and I do not wish to change them for my own convenience. 
The inference, though, is clear: my parliamentary friend does not want a registry office wedding. He wants the right to be married in church and the holy law excludes that possibility.
He doesn't elaborate on whether his colleague's Catholic church was willing to marry him or not. Instead he infers that "wanting the right" to be married in church is equivalent to forcing a church to marry you. These two propositions are not the same thing. There may well be a few activists out there who might wish to force some unwilling church to marry them but they are few and far between. I certainly don't expect his "gentle" colleague to be the sort to want this. In any case the consultation doesn't allow them to even try, and any future legislation would (I have no doubt) allow any church to refuse to marry whomsoever they wish not to marry. It's a red herring of an argument and one I'd call dishonest if I wasn't being polite. The next argument is again given no context and no proposal for another solution offered.
Additionally, we are told, the Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister, presumably with the support of the government, wishes to re-write history and tradition and literature and official forms and to remove from the lexicon the words “husband and wife” because these words encapsulate the very fact that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. 
This takes “equality” into a realm that is almost Stalinist in its “political correctness”. If weare to re-construct official and business documentation and to replace “Husband and Wife” with “spouses” and “partners” where will this stop? 
Will Shakespeare and Milton and The Holy Bible be rewritten also? Will only “correctly” expurgated literature be allowed to be used in the classroom? Do not try to portray this as fanciful. 
Children’s literature has been sanitised in the interests of other “equalities” and this, if it is allowed to pass, will follow.
Well why would they want to do this? Because otherwise laws would make no legal sense. This isn't about forcing people not to call each other husband and wife, many same sex couples will consist of husbands or wives after all, just about making sure the law applies equally to all. Perhaps that might things seem a little more sane than the idea of some evil Liberal Democrat (could you not hear him spitting when he wrote those two words?) desperate to take change the very nature of reality to serve their Stalinist desire to rewrite Shakespeare.

Rewrite history? Not very old history, as marriage wasn't actually set as being between a man and a woman until the 1970s (the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

Special shout out for the mention of "political correctness". I felt the urge to grab a tin-foil hat when I read that. But the last time I checked Parliament doesn't get much of a say in the content of the works of Shakespeare or the Bible (although as we saw above Sir Gale presents himself as an expert on what is and what isn't "holy law").

It's so shrill, dishonest and lazy that one has to take a step back and realise this is about letting two people marry each other and not some sort of New World Order plot to upset Sir Roger Gale.

P.S. If anyone can let me know what books have been amended by our Stalinist overlords I'd be really glad to know of them.

Now to our second slightly earlier argument from Steve Baker MP. It's an article that is against marriage equality but actually proposes a different way forward. I have to say I absolutely agree with the aims, just not which path to take to get there. Have a read of "It’s time to denationalise marriage". Message to UKIP; that is how one does a libertarian argument against marriage equality!

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

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

What Have The Lib Dems Done For Me?

It's easy to get hysterical over the "betrayal" of Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems who have "sold out" their voters and the poor for a moment in the limelight of Government. It's easy to lament over what might have been in a Rainbow Coalition or a quickly dissolved Tory minority Government. Tuition fees. Disability benefits. The NHS. There's plenty to beat the Lib Dems up over (if you disagree with the Coalition's positions that is, something I'm still not clear on myself).

But there is plenty of good coming out of the Coalition too. Things that are changing our country for the better in ways that seem irreversible.

The raising of the personal allowance thresholds on income tax stands out as both a major shift in how we look at "progressive" taxation and in the lives of a great many people.

I was sitting at work a few months ago and one of the part-timers at the company I work for was talking about how strange it was that she was no longer paying income tax. She said it was absolutely fantastic to get that little bit extra a month in her pay packet. I was quick to point out that this was due to a Lib Dem policy that the Government was pursuing (never miss an opportunity to evangelise...) But when I explained that the threshold would increase again this year, several other colleagues realised they too would soon be out of income tax altogether. They were, needless to say, extremely pleased. These people are generally mothers, keen to stay in work but glad for every extra penny to help them care for their families. It was great to see that something from the Lib Dem manifesto was making such a visible, positive impact on the lives of people I know. And it wasn't just something good for them.

I'm on a low salary and because my other half is quite a bit better off than I, I do not meet the requirements for the tax credits people on my wage get. Of course that doesn't take into account how we live and that we keep our finances relatively separate. The personal allowance increase last year was thus an excellent thing for someone like me who doesn't get the benefits many others on a similar wage get. That little extra money allowed me to buy some extra holiday days without being any worse off, which allowed me to spend more time with my other half during a particularly tough year health-wise. Those 5 extra days really made a difference to my quality of life.

This year my pay packet will look even healthier, and in the next year and the next. That is something we can all thank the Lib Dems for. Something that will help those on a low income regardless of their lifestyle, relationships and family situation. That is quite something indeed!

Then comes something pretty close to my heart. Marriage equality. Despite obviously my usual objections to it not being enough (I didn't give Labour an easy ride over civil partnerships, so I can't give the Coalition an easy ride of marriage equality), this is something that will touch me dearly. I have been in a long term relationship for nigh on 8 years. It's been a while since we started considering marriage. The idea that this is now no longer just a pie in the sky dream but something that may actually happen in the next couple of years leaves me a little over-excited.

On a deeply personal level this, and the Lib Dems continuing fight for religious marriage equality, leaves me so very thankful to the Lib Dems. If I live another 50 years I'd still thank them for this wonderful, wonderful chance to be able to express my love for the man I adore. Marriage equality is a huge leap forward. 

Onwards next to talk of Lords reform. Our unwritten constitution is at once a thing of wonder and a monstrous mess. The House of Lords has been picked at, moulded and defanged over and over again in the 20th century. It is now nothing more than a Frankenstein's monster. It's time for wholesale reform of this mess. Imagine a more democratic, a more powerful and a more decisive House of Lords.

Well soon we may not need to imagine any longer, for the Lib Dems in Government have managed to get this much mishandled problem reviewed and options considered. If the Lib Dems managed to get even half the reforms proposed through, they could disappear at the next election but never be forgotten. It would be the most monumental constitutional change since the 1909 People's Budget forced a previous showdown between the Commons and the Lords.

 These, of course, are the three things that most excite and interest me, but they are by no means the only Lib Dem wins in the Government.

The Lib Dems have compromised in Coalition. They've worked with the Tories in doing things that make every Lib Dem member a little uncomfortable. But it hasn't been in vain. There is a lot to be thankful for. I can thank the Lib Dems for a better quality of life and the chance to legally commit to my relationship and enjoy the protections that result. And that's after just two years of the Lib Dems in a Coalition. Imagine what a Lib Dem majority could achieve!

Thank you Liberal Democrats, I shan't forget the good things you've done!

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

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Two Queens On The Throne and Other Stories

Join me on a journey through some of the interesting, supportive and crazy articles and comment pieces in the media over the last few days!

Let's start with this one from the Sun. Gay marriage law means 'there could be two Queens' on the throne. No, they aren't suggesting Elton John and David Furnish might suddenly be in the running for a promotion. This story actually deals with an interesting question, one the Daily Mail has also picked up "The Honourable David Furnish? Gay partners of knights and peers may be given courtesy titles in latest equality drive". What are the more blue-blooded and well-honoured LGBT folk's spouses to call themselves? It's interesting, to me at least, because it'll bring into sharp relief the question of such titles in general and the lopsided way they are applied. The female spouses in opposite-sex marriages tend to take the males titles but not the other way round. Will this debate be avoided or are we heading for a major change? It's extremely interesting to imagine and I do hope it's not brushed under the carpet but dealt with in a thoughtful and innovative way.

The Daily Mail has been foremost among the newspapers opposing equal civil marriage, and one of the arguments advanced is that marriage means something unique and shouldn't be applied to a relationship other than that between a man and a woman for the purposes of procreation. So an article about civil partnerships today made me smile. "Gay prisoners to marry inside some of Britain's toughest jails... as long as they pay for the ceremonies themselves". I thought marriage wasn't for the gays??

Over at the Express group we have two very different comment pieces this weekend. In the Express we have Nigel Farage offering yet another non-libertarian argument against marriage equality. Apparently, it's all Europe's fault. Who'd have guessed?? In the Star we have Sally Bercow. Not only does she argue for civil marriage equality but even goes further to demand religious marriage equality. Nicely balanced Express group!

Brian Sewell offers a very confused argument about an imaginary policy David Cameron has that would introduce religious marriage equality. Yet another case of "It's alright to be homophobic if you're gay" perhaps? It's funny how the gay men against this stuff have to make a big deal about being gay as if that makes their opinion worth more than anyone else. Isn't that what the right wing accuse us of doing? Tut tut.

As we head towards actual legislation I think the questions raised (on consummation, adultery, titles etc.) will become ever more interesting and far more wide-ranging than some of us realised (although the antis understand that at least and like to chirp about how complicated it all is at every opportunity) and the antis comment pieces will become even more unhinged and inconsistent. Fun times ahead.

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

Friday, 16 March 2012

Why It's Important To Respond To The Government's Marriage Equality Consultation

Yesterday that long-awaited day final arrived, and the Westminster Government's consultation on marriage equality began.

There were no surprises in the consultation and it has been made clear it's not really about if but how the Government introduces civil marriage equality. You can have a read of the proposals and find out how to respond here.

There are two important reasons why those of us in favour of full marriage equality should respond:

1) most importantly to confirm our support for this step forward. As I've said before on civil partnerships as long as one in clear it's not ideal then we can hold our noses and agree this is a positive move forward if only a small one rather than the leap some of us were looking for.

We must make sure our support is clear and we can do that most forcefully by responding to this consultation.

2) the second reason is for constructive criticism. This consultation is far, far from perfect and is at times downright insulting. The nonsense on banning religious ceremonies is highlighted very well in this blogpost by Emma. There are still some unresolved ramifications for transgendered individuals. The ban on heterosexuals getting civil partnerships is indefensible if civil partnerships are to continue at all. There is a lot that needs to be brought up so that the Government knows that this is not the end of the story. There's a website set up by the Lib Dems here offering a guide to the arguments and suggestions on how to respond constructively.

If we don't make our voices heard no one else is going to do it for us. The anti-marriage equality folks will shepherd their flocks into responding on mass, and the status quo elite will rubber stamp this with little thought for the further issues that it pointlessly but clearly avoids. Speak up, and remember to also sign the Campaign for Marriage Equality's petition too.

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

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

UKIP's David Coburn, Marriage Equality And That Silly Article

David Coburn, a UKIP candidate for the London Assembly, wrote an article in Pink News "defending" UKIP's anti-marriage equality stance. It amused me greatly, so I thought I'd break it down for you all.

"The same-sex marriage debate is not an old-fashioned left-right political issue. It’s about freedom. The definition of parties as right or left is increasingly out of date. Parties these days are more accurately described as authoritarian or libertarian." 

 I'd agree that the same-sex marriage debate is about freedom. And I agree there's a scale upon which you can judge a party's libertarian or authoritarian leanings.

 "If you are looking for an authoritarian party you need look no further than the Liberal Democrats or Labour and to a slightly lesser extent, but not much, the Tories." 

This is a totally simplistic take on the concept of authoritarianism. There's a scale, and it's different for different issues. No one, except maybe my beloved Dr. Paul, can be 100% libertarian. Human beings, and their organisations, don't work that way.

 "The Tories over the last few years have raced to catch up with Labour’s authoritarian politically correct agenda. Under Cameron, they fully adopted it and in some ways exceeded it in an unprincipled race to grab votes. In the same way, unprincipled Cameron in opposition matched Brown’s catastrophic squandering of taxpayers’ money pound for pound until the markets and Banks collapsed and he suddenly had to change tack."

SIREN! If only someone could write one right wing article where "political correctness" was not mentioned. I struggle to continue reading articles after that old-chestnut rears it's ugly head. Political correctness in about 80% of cases it's applied to actually equals good manners. Now if you don't like being forced into good manners, that's a different thing but call it what it is!

 "The authoritarian Lib-Lab-Con parties want to regulate everything you do and even what you think through their chosen instruments of ‘elf ‘n safety, Security mate!, political correctness and Equality Fascism."

'“Don’t smoke that… Don’t drink… Eat your five portions of greens… You can’t say that… You can’t think that… Do what we say but not what we do… Smile for the security cameras… ”'

BLUE ALERT! Somebody change the light bulbs, not only is health and safety mentioned but it's unironically chavved up as 'elf 'n safety. I agree regulations are over the top, but seriously if health and safety regulations are your concern in a country where people still get locked up without charge then you're not paying attention.  

"The Lib-Lab-Cons have created a grotesque, maximum security, Kafkaesque society where everything including speech and thought are regulated in the name of security and equality. You can stab old ladies or promising teenagers and do three months, but woe betide if you transgress the language and thought police. The country is sick and tired of being told what to do and think."

I'm interested in where this is going... I suspect we're about to see a lot of hypocrisy on the "being told what to do" part any moment now. Again, I sort of agree that some of the laws in this country regarding things such as hate speech are destroying our liberty and I've said so plenty of times before on this blog.

"UKIP is a profoundly libertarian party dedicated to small government, low taxes, live and let live, free speech and thought and above all toleration of the rights and differences of others." 

I suspect this article is about to prove this wrong.

"UKIP thoroughly supports equal rights for same sex civil partnerships and equal treatment financially as married couples. As a matter of fact we support the same allowances for gay partners with children as married couples with children." 

 Aww... that's nice.

 "Our problem is with the word “marriage”." 

 Has Julie Bindel joined UKIP??

 "If the government does legislate in this way UKIP believes that any criticism of same sex marriage which may be expressed by someone on the basis of their faith could be classified as a “hate crime”. That would be a grotesque assault on peoples’ freedom of conscience. As we all know these things tend to be the thin end of the wedge once the government’s ludicrous overpaid /over-pensioned thought police get on the job."

What a load of garbage. A slippery slope argument based on nothing more than belief! UKIP haven't even waited for the consultation to begin before going all swivverly-eyed whilst MAKING THINGS UP.

Absolutely we should be vigilant about protecting the rights of the religious and the not-very-nice folks to dislike and criticise marriage equality all they want. But that's not a reason to not support marriage equality, it's a reason to ensure it's done properly!

"I have always fought for equal treatment and I believe civil partnerships have achieved that. However I think it does the gay community no good whatever to cross the street and pick a fight with people of faith." 

 Does UKIP know this consultation is about civil marriage, and that any talk of religious marriage equality is done because currently the Government refuses to recognise same-sex marriages carried out by religious organisations? Talk about being told what to do. Religious marriage equality isn't just about equality. It's about religious freedom! Not all people of faith believe the same thing, and UKIP lie to themselves if they believe differently. Hardly an individualistic view of the subject. There are plenty of libertarian arguments against the institution of Government sponsored marriage, and I wholeheartedly agree with them. Hell, they are my ultimate goal! Sadly UKIP haven't advanced ANY SORT of a libertarian argument here.

"We have for so long been persecuted ourselves that it seems like performing an unnecessary victory roll over a defeated enemy to demand that our perfectly satisfactory arrangements should be called “marriage”. 

This shows a lack of toleration towards others who look on marriage as a holy sacrament between man and woman." 

Tolerance is not a libertarian concept. One does not tolerate another's freedom. It's something that is theirs regardless of if you like it or not. I do not tolerate another's belief in a diety, that belief is their inate right as a human being.

"Cameron is using the gay community to make himself look hip with the voters without thinking through the ramifications."

 Yeah, we can see how well that's going down.

"By the way, 20 per cent of UKIP’s list candidates in the London Assembly Elections are openly gay. Commentators on have asked if I was a “real” gay. I await my invitation to come up for a cup of coffee!" 

 Oh you're gay. Being gay does not excuse such a poor (authoritarian!) argument.

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

Monday, 5 March 2012

Marriage Equality: Both Sides Are Fighting Different Battles

Two rowdy armies are lined up and ready for a fight. Spears, shields and banners are waved in the air, great generals parade up and down in front of their troops giving them pep talks and revving them for the fight. Jeers and catcalls come from within their ranks, the noise is almost overwealming. They are ready for the fight of their lives. There's only one problem; each army stands in an otherwise empty field.  All their screaming and posturing is for nought.

That's the state of the marriage equality debate at the moment.

The churches have amassed a formidable army, through relentless promotion, at C4M. The marriage equality supporters have now, belatedly, begun to martial their forces too, at C4EM. But if you look at the arguments appearing beneath the line on newspaper website and on forums, you'll see that neither appear to be on the same page about what it is they are arguing about.

Take our believing friends. Many can't understand why the Government is going to force churches to marry same sex couples. It's such an overwealmingly obvious attack on religious freedom that they aghast that any Tory-led Government could contemplate such a thing.

That, in case any of you don't immediately realise, is all nuts. The Government is still going to force all churches NOT to marry same sex couples. The proposals on the table are, shamefully, only focussed on civil marriages. They are not even thinking about religious marriage, let alone plotting to force homosexuality into the churches! Hilariously the Government is proposing something of limited scope to avoid upsetting the devout, but didn't really realise just how deluded some of those same people can become when fed with a little misinformation.

Others are concerned that if marriage equality becomes a reality their freedom of speech, to say same sex couples can't get married, will be compromised. Given the recent history of "hate speech" laws going a little over the top, this is not completely without merit. But opposing marriage equality on these grounds before any law has even been put forward for review is a little premature and I think it unlikely that such an outlandish suggestion is going to come to pass.

My favourite comments have been those suggesting homosexuality will become mandatory, a typically OTT reaction that one can only ever find below the line. Brilliant stuff.

On a more serious level the believers debate is about language, about technicalities and "tradition" (the tradition they like of course, not the ones they don't!).

On the opposing side are people talking about love, equality and freedom. But there are also people talking about paedophile priests, dredging up anti-Catholic and anti-Christian bigotry, declaring the country would be a better place if it was free of all these meddling priests and believing sheep. This sort of stuff isn't helpful. Cardinal O'Brien is self-evidently not a very nice person. But let's attack him for his arguments, or lack thereof, instead of for the crimes of his Church or simply for his beliefs.

Right now it's hard to debate because neither side is on the same page. I'm hopeful that the imminent consultation on marriage equality might help show what is really at stake and perhaps allow the fight to commence in a more direct and honest way. The falsehoods from both sides (although my bias definitely sees far more of that from the Campaign Against Marriage) might at least become a little less.

Rest assured I'm in this fight until marriage equality's victory, however long and hard the road may be.

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

Sunday, 4 March 2012

We cannot afford to indulge these Cardinals

The anti-marriage equality rants are becoming more and more unhinged. There's debating the merits of such a change to an institution that has so much meaning to so many, and then there is being nasty. Cardinal O'Brien has crossed that line this morning in the Telegraph.

With the use of phrases designed to insult (such as "Their proposal represents a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.") he seems to have forgotten his Church's roots in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Peace, kindness, forgiveness. These are not values this representative of Catholicism seems to understand.

Sadly he rolls out the usual arguments.

Won't somebody think of the children?, he asks in the tone of someone who thinks children will be denied a mother and a father due to marriage. Don't let anyone tell him same-sex couples can already adopt.

It'll undermine the fabric of society. But let's not point out those other odd-ball basketcase countries such as Canada or Norway where marriage equality is already legal and society has yet to collapse. I'm sure he probably believes the Roman empire collapsed due to buggery (what came first buggery or Christianity? I rest my case).

They already have civil partnerships, why do they want more? Freedom should not be some sort of generous concession given to keep minorities quiet. It is what it is. It's not greedy to ask to be treated as an equal citizen of one's country.

When they got civil partnerships they said they didn't want anything more! He confuses Labour and the champagne gays like Ben Summerskill with genuine LGBT freedom loving folk. I'll leave it to them to explain either their change of heart or, as some Labour activists have proudly boasted to me recently, their duplicity.

All pointless scare-mongering.

Cardinal O'Brien needs to have a good hard long look at himself and come back with something less off the peg.

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

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Campaign For Marriage Is Doing Far Better Than They Should Be

So the Coalition Against, sorry, For Marriage's campaign is doing well. Oh, I'm not too worried that they are about to tip the balance against the Government's civil marriage equality plans. But they are doing far better than they should be.

Their petition against marriage equality has, at the time of writing, just under 65,000 signatures. The campaign for equal marriage has just over 10% of that number signing up. They've also got vocal supporters who are much more able to get press coverage of their authoritarian views. Be it Ann Widdecombe suggesting marriage equality is being foisted on an unwilling populace, or Peter Bone who thinks the idea is "completely nuts", they are the ones getting all the attention. They even have Labour MPs like Joe Benton and Jim Dobbin signing their petition (Gordon Brown and Jack Straw next perhaps?).

Thanks to the neutering of the debate due to the introduction of civil partnerships, we don't have supporters in the public eye who are even half as devoted to marriage equality as their opposite numbers are devoted to defeating it. It's not an issue that get's the LGBT friendly types excited. We don't have someone of Lady Gaga's stature in popular culture calling for it. We don't have politicians doing more than offering their support. We don't have champions willing to get dirty for it. The best we have, and I shake my head as I type this, is Ben Summerskill! The only truly pro-marriage equality story to make the big time news wise was Lynne Featherstone's recent show of support, and that's only because she's a Minister (the story getting into the news that is, her support isn't questioned!). Peter Tatchell, hero that he is, isn't forgotten but the media tend to ignore him unless he is 1) violently attacked or 2) arrested and I hope he doesn't need to do either of those two things in the name of marriage equality in the UK!

Even worse, we still have the radical anti-marriage folks (who I have sympathy with but they want to BAN marriage where as I want to make it a private matter) playing right into the campaigns evil plans! Just check out Julie Bindel, she of transphobic fame, getting all upset at the time wasted on marriage equality. She might think it's wasted time, she doesn't need to campaign for it, but for some of us it's about being able to marry the one we love! I know, romance is dead and all that...

Who is going to be to marriage equality what Ben Cohen and Gareth Roberts have been to the campaign against homophobia in sport? We need a hero!

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