Thursday, 27 September 2012

Ed Miliband Issues Strongest Support For Marriage Equality Yet

Oh, Dear Constant Reader, how far we've come from the days of the last Labour leadership election. If you remember I stalked the internet accosting unwary Labour leadership candidates with questions about marriage equality.

Ed Miliband, perhaps understandably, seemed most unprepared of the five candidates for these questions. His answers, such as to my question here or to Liberal Conspiracy here, were hesitant.

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. 
But he quickly got the feel for it and, realising it was an issue that was just going to keep coming up, he soon declared his support for it (such as in this tweet to me).

He has now both confirmed that he supports full marriage equality (i.e. including allowing religious ceremonies) and suggesting that Labour MPs will be whipped at the vote on marriage equality.

With the Lib Dems and Labour offering strong support and the Tories split on the issue, marriage equality feels like it is getting closer. Credit where credit is due; good job Ed!
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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

"Support for Traditional Marriage Is Collapsing" (Based On Anti-Equality Activists Polling)

Today we have a new Angus Reid poll out on the topic of marriage equality.

The overall results are, in my opinion, pretty positive for the marriage equality cause. 46% (+3 since January) think same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry; 33% would allow same-sex couples to form civil partnerships, but not marry; 14% believe same-sex couples should not have any kind of legal recognition 
A simple majority supporting marriage equality and a very impressive overall majority supporting legal partnership rights for same sex couples. Which only serves to throw extra light upon the deceptive questions used in the two ComRes polls this year to try to make the anti-equality side look popular.

The first poll was so extraordinarily outrageous that it staggers me that even the Telegraph could bring itself to write about it. But they did and presented, as fact, the idea that 70% of the population oppose marriage equality.

I cannot believe that Catholic Voices had the audacity to ask people to agree or disagree with a statement about marriage without mentioning marriage equality at all and then present it as evidence that their position had the support of 70%(!) of the country. Even more unbelievably some commentators continue to quote this figure now!

Scotland for Marriage tried the same trick afterwards and got the result that 55% of Scots were opposed.

Well Angus Reid managed to be quite thorough and asked before a direct, straightforward question about support for marriage equality to get the above results and asked a similar question to ComRes to find 43% say they would vote to support the statement "To define marriage as between a man and a woman" and 43% said they would define it as between two people.

Now based on these polls I can come to only one conclusion: support for the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman is collapsing at a rate of knots. From 70% to 43% in less than a year? The anti-marriage equality campaign must be going well then...

Of course I'm being facetious, and don't believe there has been any such collapse. I just believe the 70% figure was complete baloney! And to see it quoted so often by the anti-marriage equality crowd only serves to strengthen my belief that they will stoop to any level to try and win. Which just doesn't seem very Christian to me at all.

You can make polling say anything and if you really have to rely on fixing them to prove your case, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate that case again.

Don't let them get away with mentioning it any more and make sure you leave a comment under any article you see pointing out the deceit behind the statement.

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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Chris Bryant MP To Introduce Marriage Equality 10 Minute Rule Bill

Chris Bryant has announced on Twitter that he will introduce a bill under the Ten Minute Rule on the 30th October 2012 called The Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill.

Details are scarce on what will actually be proposed but it can only be a good positive way of getting marriage equality into the news rather the usual anti-equality hi-jinks. Even though Ten Minute Rule bills have next to no chance of success, I wish him luck in getting it on to the agenda. Let's hope it is also more wide-ranging than the Government proposals.

To avoid coming across as a total hypocrite, yes I do have an issue with Chris Bryant's previous stance on marriage equality. But one does have to let things go at some point, I suppose.

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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Bigotgate II: Marriage Equality And Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg, a man who has been completely behind marriage equality for as long as the issue has been discussed (yes even before most LGBT politicians!), has sadly annoyed the anti-equality folks with his use of that highly charged word "bigot" in a draft speech.

Even more sadly he then removed that word from the actual speech and assured everyone he doesn't think they are bigots if they oppose marriage equality.

Peter Bone, Tory MP, had this to say:

“Nick Clegg has got to explain himself and apologise very rapidly, this is not the way the deputy prime minister behaves.”

I'd definitely say that it was very bad politics to use that word, especially as it has only been two years since the original bigotgate. And it isn't true that every marriage equality opponent is a "bigot".  A very small number are simply confused as to what is being proposed (many seem to think the churches will be forced to marry people they don't want to, a justifiable thing to be concerned about but not actually true). But I think the use of such a strong word is hardly something the anti-equality folks should be upset about. Shall we take a look at some of the things people who should know better have said about us recently?

Cardinal O'Brien refers to plans for marriage equality as follows:

Their proposal represents a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.

Grotesque. Such a nasty word. Peter Bone, of course, came out quickly calling for his resignation. Oh wait... no.

Lord Maginnis said:

“Does that mean that every deviant sexual practice has to be accommodated? Will the next thing be that we legislate for some sort of bestiality?”

Peter Bone obviously found this unacceptable and distanced himself from these comments. Oh wait... no.

Then there was the Tory MP who said this about marriage equality.

“Wouldn’t it just be very simple to write back and say, ‘Marriage is between a man and a woman so this is completely nuts’?”

Hardly the measured tone one would expect from a Tory MP on this. I'm sure Peter Bone was there telling his colleague to behave more appropriately given the sensitive and serious nature of the subject and the strong beliefs on both sides of the issue. Oh wait... that was Peter Bone! 

Two wrongs don't make a right, but those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!

When anti-equality folks get as annoyed about the sort of over-the-top comments above as they do over the use of the word "bigot", then we'll accept they may not be bigots. 

Nick Clegg should have been more careful with the words he chose, that goes without saying I think. I may not think he is the Lib Dem saviour, as I once did, but I know on this issue he is a principled and decent man who has strong views on this subject. Just as they do with our opponents, those strong views sometimes get the better of him. You can't really blame him for that. 

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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Teachers Face Sack For Personal Morality (By Religious Schools)

Spreading fear is something religious organisations are good at. Right now they are scaremongering over the consequences of marriage equality and their leading with the possibility of teachers being sacked for expressing anti-marriage equality views.

So I wondered about how people expressing their personal beliefs are treated at religious schools, obviously I expect they are given the space to hold views contrary to the organisation that runs the school?

A Seventh Day Adventist Church school in Melbourne, Australia sacked a teacher because he expressed support for marriage equality on Facebook.

A Catholic school in St. Louis, Missouri, USA sacked a gay teacher for... getting married.

A Catholic school in Minnesota, USA sacked a teacher who dared to say she disagreed with the church on marriage equality.

These cases are all outside of the UK, I couldn't find recent cases involving teachers on either side of the debate here in the UK (feel free to point them out). But I'd be interested to know where our religious friends stand on this matter. Do they support sacking teachers for their personal morality or not? And are they saying that a school has no right to tell a teacher what they can and can't tell the children?

Ultimately I suspect you'll find hypocrisy somewhere in their arguments....

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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Marriage Equality Opponents Around The World Undermine Their Own Cause

The anti-equality campaign down in Australia suffered a rather unnecessary own goal this week when Jim Wallace, the head of the Australian Christian Lobby, suggested that the homosexual male "lifestyle" was more dangerous than smoking. Interestingly he cited the same life expectancy reduction of 20 years as the Scottish Catholics, who were quoting a 2005 study based on obituaries. I've dealt with the fairly obvious faults on the more dangerous than smoking line before.

The own goal part came when Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister of Australia, cancelled her top billed speech at the ACL's conference next month. Gillard, an opponent of marriage equality herself, said:

 ''To compare the health effects of smoking cigarettes with the many struggles gay and lesbian Australians endure in contemporary society is heartless and wrong,'' 
''Although everyone is entitled to their own view, these statements reiterated again today on behalf of ACL are totally unacceptable. In light of this, I believe my attendance at the conference would be inappropriate." 
''There are a range of deeply held views in the community on the issue of same-sex marriage but it is the responsibility of all parties in this debate to be respectful and responsible in any public comments they make.'' 
The more exposure the anti-equality groups arguments get, the more the moderates and the undecideds move away from them.

Meanwhile over in the United States of America...  a Democratic member of the Maryland House of Delegates, Emmett C. Burns Jr., was very unhappy with the pro-marriage equality position of Brendon Ayanbadejo (an American football player for the Baltimore Ravens) and wrote a letter to the team basically asking them to shut him up. Whilst the team rather maturely decided not to respond to him, one of Ayanbadejo's footballing colleagyes, Chris Kluwe, gave him a strongly-worded and rather amusing response which has since gone viral on Twitter.

I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland's state government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail (you may want to hire an intern to help you with the longer words)... 
...Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you're going to say that political views have "no place in a sport"?... 
...I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster.
Yet again the anti-equality movement shoot themselves in the foot, giving time and publicity to the pro-equality arguments whilst they end up looking authoritarian and foolish. Thank you anti-marriage equality activists, you are really helping our cause!

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Friday, 7 September 2012

Losing Faith In The Libertarian Way

As you may know I'm a, often inconsistent, "liberaltarian". That is basically a libertarian who doesn't have the balls to go all the way and just say "Screw the Government". Perhaps calling myself a lightweight minarchist is the best way of describing my usual political stance on most issues.

Reading back through my personal blog (which is far older than this) I have often gone through periods of libertarianism. It is a running theme through the last decade or so. I have a strong belief that the Government should keep out of people's lives.

And yet, I'm a huge a fan of co-operatives (I know that is not mutually exclusive with being a libertarian!).  At the same time I'm a great idealist who loves big building projects, space exploration (for exploration's sake) and who just wants everyone to get along. Worse, at times in my past I've been very sympathetic to many of the aims of Communism (even if I believe that those who follow Marxism so strictly that it's become a religion are just as crazy as those who think L. Ron Hubbard discovered the solution to life's problems)

I have spent the last few years of my life working at a housing association and now a public utility. In both instances I've encountered a great deal of people suffering in poverty and even more who appear helpless without the assistance of others ("My tap is dripping, we're all going to die!") . I've often tried to blame this on their dependency on the state and argued in my head that if the state just got out of their lives they'd find deep within themselves the ability to stand on their own two feet and help themselves out.

I don't believe that any more.

I speak to so many people who either through illness/disability or sheer ignorance NEED guidance and assistance. Their family situations don't allow for the support they need from their family. I often wonder what their lives would be like in a libertarian world. Charities and individuals would help many I'm sure. But so many more would fall to even great depths of destitution than they are in now that it makes me wonder whether I personally could stomach their suffering for my freedom.

I know there are libertarian answers to this out there, but my experiences are starting to make me think that, just as we weren't cut out for a nearly 100% planned economy and an authoritarian state, humans just aren't made for libertarianism.

And other things rankle me. I love freedom of speech but my personal morality just cannot stand the idea of people abusing each other in the streets without retribution. I hate the selfishness of many individuals and I'm often distressed that they are allowed to get away with treating others like scum. I've bit my lip to try to keep consistent with my libertarian leanings but some things just shouldn't be allowed (in my opinion).

I'm certain I don't like how things are now under this weird corporate capitalist state where Government and business are far too close, to the detriment of both. PFIs and PPPs drive me crazy. I can't stand Government monitoring of our every move in the interests of some imaginary "security". But then I have a distaste for those who need assistance being denied it, I can't stand the idea of people suffering needlessly.

And I hate compromise. Which leaves me at a loss as to what I believe will be the best way forward for this country. I don't see the Tories, Labour or the Lib Dems offering a vision of the future that I like. So I'm in the process of trying to work out what I actually believe is right before I can decide if there is anyone I'd want to support. It will probably be a long process.

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