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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tories Light-Years Ahead of Republicans on Marriage

Prime Minister Cameron with Deputy Prime Minister Clegg, whom Cameron jokingly introduced at as "my own civil partner" at a Gay Pride reception held at 10 Downing Street last year

Gays in the United Kingdom have been able to form civil partnerships since 2005, entitling them to practically all the rights and benefits of marriage without the name. However, the law prohibits religious readings, symbols, music, or prayers, and civil partnership ceremonies cannot take place in houses of worship.

This week, the coalition government headed by Conservative Party leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg have announced a definite plan to open civil marriage to gays next year, as in Canada and the nine other countries around the world that have equalized their marriage laws.

Andrew Sullivan, an expatriate Briton who has written and campaigned for equal marriage for more than twenty years, has this to say about developments in his native land, and here:
What a contrast. In the U.S. GOP, gays are the spawn of Satan, and a leading candidate runs a business designed to “cure” them. In Britain, the Conservative-Liberal Coalition government has just announced it is moving ahead with legislation for full marriage equality. . . .

When Virtually Normal came out in 1995, I didn’t dare hope that this day would come — or that it would come from the Conservative party in Britain, which now has more openly gay members of parliament than the more liberal opposition. And it is, of course, a conservative position: promoting family, responsibility, and civil equality in response to an emerging social reality — large numbers of openly gay citizens. In this sense, the GOP is not in any way “conservative.” It is better understood as a religious movement with radically reactionary political objectives, like undoing much of the New Deal.

One day, it may recover, and candidacies like Jon Huntsman’s show the way forward. But not yet. And perhaps not for a very long time. When a party becomes a religion, and when policies become doctrines, change is very hard.


iain said...

Well, I am one of her Majesty's subjects, and I've lived in the US for 23 years because my partner is American - and we have been together for, yes, 23+ years. I married him in the UK, at a civil ceremony, four years ago and in fact Civil Partnerships offer *all* the rights and responsibilities of marriage. The fact we couldn't register our union in a church mosque or temple bothers me not one jot - you see, we Brits are a pretty much godless bunch (I jest, but not entirely) and marriage itself - let alone a churchy one - is not a majority pursuit; our own godson, for instance, has loving (str8) parents who have never legally married. So societal attitudes towards marriage are somewhat different in the UK. What is particularly great is that my American spouse now has full immigration rights into the UK as my husband. How unlike the US - fortunately I got to live and work here by virtue of specialised work skills - that's how I initially was able to remain with my beloved, but what of those gay couples who may not have the option to apply for a specialised visa in order to stay in the US; what are they to do? But you are right - the Western European countries are far far ahead of the US. But here in Freedom's Land we are absolutely shackled by religion in a way secular Europeans are not. Oh, and btw, don't let me hear you even *think* of voting Tory, were you a Brit! ... you never know, one day you could be. What if you were to fall in love with one of us? ;-)

Russ Manley said...

Well, Iain, I've always been an anglophile and would never have minded putting that into actual practice . . . though its a bit late in the day now to think of such things, at my age.

I have read up on CP's, and I did use the qualifier "practically" - there are a handful of minor differences yet, such as being forbidden by law to have any religious references at your partnership ceremony if you so choose, as well as not being marked "married" on your passports, I think - also, if you CP a peer of the realm, you don't get to share his title as married spouses do.

And of course you don't get the big beautiful potent word Married at all. Which as I have blogged about numerous times here, is not merely a symbolic, but a substantive difference. Separate is not equal.

But I congratulate you fellas on your 23 years, that's wonderful. Hope you have many, many more together!

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