Saturday, September 17, 2011

Brody's Notes... Britain To Have Legalised Same-Sex By 2015

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone
By Brody Levesque | LONDON, England -- The British Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, is unveiling plans for introduction of a measure before Parliament that legalises same-sex marriages in Britain before 2015. Featherstone, a Liberal Democrat, has also vowed to make Britain "a world leader for gay rights."
Under current British law, same-sex couples are allowed civil partnerships, which offer most of the legal protections of marriage. The results of several recent polls conducted indicated that two-thirds of the British public would support same-sex marriages.
An advance copy of text of the speech that the Equalities Minister will give before a Liberal Democrat Party conference Birmingham Saturday was released to the press in which Featherstone states:
"While on my travels as a champion for women’s rights, I am and will be a champion for gay rights too. Britain must not get complacent. We are a world leader for gay rights, but there is still more that we must do.
In March, this Government will begin a formal consultation on how to implement equal civil marriage for same sex couples, and this would allow us to make any legislative changes necessary by the end of this Parliament.
Civil partnerships were a welcome first step – but this party rejects prejudice and discrimination in all its forms, and I believe that to deny one group of people the same opportunities offered to another is not only discrimination, but is not fair."
Featherstone's announcement comes with the full backing of British Prime Minister David Cameron.
A source in the prime minister's offices at Number 10 Downing Street told the British press Friday that the prime minister had taken a strong personal interest in the move, and "had insisted that progress be speeded up." The official added that Cameron believes same-sex civil marriage “is the right thing to go for."
In 2006, in his first speech as the Tory leader, Cameron said:
“There’s something special about marriage. It’s not about religion. It’s not about morality. It’s about commitment [...] And by the way, it means something whether you’re a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and another man.”
During a question and answer session with PinkNews UK readers during last year’s general election campaign, when asked if he’d support a move to full marriage, The prime minister wrote:
“I am so glad that we now have civil partnerships. They have helped remove discrimination and have given gay people the rights that they deserve. I want to do everything I can to support commitment and I’m open to changing things further to guarantee equality.”
Once the changes to current law are implemented, same-sex couples will be able to have full marriages in registry offices on equal footing with their heterosexual counterparts. But they will still be barred from getting married in churches and other religious buildings – even though some denominations want to offer the services.
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the LGBTQ Equality Rights group Stonewall UK, reacted Friday evening stating:
"This change will make a difference to a number of gay people who are concerned at the differing status of civil partnerships and marriage. But it will not apply to churches and it seems unfair as a matter of religious freedom that if some denominations – such as the Quakers – wish to celebrate same-sex marriages, they should be barred from doing so."