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Stonewall in having an opinion shock!

October 27, 2010

Yes, you heard it here 579th! Stonewall, the UK’s largest LG(B?) charity, has finally come out in favour of… well, read the quote yourself.

‘We seek to secure marriage for gay people as a civil vehicle on the same basis as heterosexual marriage, available in a registry office but without a mandate on religious organisations to celebrate it. We seek to retain civil partnerships for lesbian and gay people recognising their special and unique status.

So, lets decode this. They want gay people to have civil marriages like heterosexual people. Nice bit of polysexual erasure there, stonewall! They don’t want gay people to have the opportunity of a religious ceremony, if they so wish. Now I know that many people of various minorities find that certain religions do not accept them for one reason or another, but stating that either a) no gay (or presumably, someone of another identity with the same legal gender as their partner) person is religious or b) no religious organisation would let two people of the same legal gender get married, is going a bit far on the assumptions front.

And what about the last bit? Keeping civil partnerships purely for “lesbian and gay people” (seems like the polysexual folks weren’t even invited to the press release). Yes, as they’ve said before their charitable objectives do not include ending heterosexual disadvantage, and campaigning to open up civil partnerships to all could be seen as that (but only by stonewall themselves). I decided to go searching for their official charitable objectives (they’ve got to have them, they’re a registered charity) on their own site, but they don’t appear to have them. So I wandered over to the Charity Commission, the body in charge of charities in the uk, and they list stonewall’s charitable objectives here. It’s quite an essay. However, there is one thing obvious from it. It never mentions Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual. It just keeps mentioning equality. Seperate is NEVER equal, stonewall!

Well. That’s nice, isn’t it. But there’s more.

Last February, Stonewall secured a permissive amendment to the Equality Act 2010 to allow the celebration of civil partnerships in religious premises. We look forward to the government implementing this important next step. 

 Yes, thank you Stonewall. Thank you very much for ignoring the work of the Unitarians and Free Christians, the Quakers  and the Liberal Jews. Of course you did all the work in getting civil partnerships into religious premises. The almost universal agreement that gender should not affect people’s ability to be married at the Quaker conference, and at the Unitarian Assembly? That clearly had nothing to do with the change in the law. (I’ve only talked to Quakers and Unitarians about this, and have had no contact with anyone who was there when the Liberal Jews decided to fight for equality on this front.)

 Thank you stonewall, for saying too little, too late. Thank you for a pithy press release that begs us to forgive that it could only be published now. Thank you for forgetting that there are more people in the world than the dreaded heterosexual and your beloved gays. Thank you for ignoring the work of others. Thank you for still not explaining why you were talking to the government about the Gender Recognition Act. Oh, and thanks for making your charitable objectives so flimsy and flexible that you’re legally allowed to do whatever you damn well please.

Why the silence? seems vaguely pleased. Admittedly, stonewall have decided to make a decision, but we shouldn’t be celebrating that! They should have made a decision a long time ago, and should have told the government from the start that civil partnerships were not an acceptable alternative to marriage.

And if you want my view on equal marriage, here it is. If both civil partnerships and marriages were opened up for both opposite-legal-gender and same-legal-gender couples to participate in, this would also mean that the Gender Recognition Act’s requirement that those people wishing for the government to recognise their gender have to leave their currently legally recognised unions would no longer be needed.  That’s still not good enough for me. I will not be happy, I will not be done campaigning on this issue until all references to gender in marriage are removed. Only once that has happened could the government even consider that some people are neither male nor female, so this would be a major step for the social and legal acceptance of non-binary people in our society.

In other words, stonewall have a long way to go before they even start considering equality.

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