Saturday, 21 December 2013

A Wonderful Year For Marriage Equality

The fight for LGBT freedom globally is one that is far from won. Just this week Nigeria and Uganda have tightened up their anti-gay laws, and Russia has highlighted how even relatively advanced nations are enacting some deeply worrying legislation. But this year one part of the LGBT movement has had levels of success that have astounded even the optimists among us; marriage equality has been one success story of which we can be proud.

Here in the UK, the fight for marriage equality turned out to be a lot easier than we were expecting. Throughout 2012 the right-wing press and activists had declared that the battle would be hard fought and everyone assumed the House of Lords would be a tough nut to crack. Yet when the votes of legalising same-sex marriage in England and Wales went through both the House of Commons and House of Lords, the majorities in favour were overwealming. It was a very quiet revolution. The law itself is far from perfect but all the bleating in the world from respectable folks like Cardinal O'Brien couldn't stop it passing through Westminster. 

And in Scotland, a similar bill is currently working its way through the Scottish Parliament. It also appears to have near ironclad support from MSPs. Soon the vast majority of British citizens will live with same-sex marriage laws. Thank you 2013!

The USA has been quite the surprise. After last year;s massive wins for Maine, Maryland and Washington, we've seen a massive increase. Between May 17, 2004 and January 1, 2013 10 states and the District of Columbia legalised same-sex marriage. During that time Prop 8 ended same-sex marriages in California.

This year the Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage in California was overturned. Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, Hawaii and Illinois legalised same-sex marriage, whilst New Jersey, New Mexico and, prepare the smelling salts, Utah had their bans on same-sex marriages overturned in court. The result in Utah is, inevitably, going to become the next Prop 8-esqe battle (though perhaps the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should learn a few lessons from that debacle). But this is an absolutely fantastic turnaround from the Bush era of constitutional bans and disappointments.

And it didn't end there for the hated "Defense of Marriage Act" was overturned on a federal level. Truly LGBT folk in the USA can say 2013 was a year to remember!


New Zealand, Uruguay and France (overcoming fierce opposition and cleric led hooligan riots) all legalised same-sex marriage this year. And with all these advances the debate has spread to more and more countries. With Ireland set for a referendum on same-sex marriage within a couple of years Northern Ireland may soon be the last significantly populated place in all north-west Europe one can't marry someone of the same-sex.

Well done 2013. What a fantastic year it has been!

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