Posts Tagged Equal Marriage
Dear The Right Revd and Right Honourable The Lord Carey of Clifton, FRSA FKC,
I noticed that you have published your entry into the Oppression Olympics on the front page of today’s Daily Mail. I’ve assessed your entry and unfortunately found it lacking. You will need to try much harder if you want to get on the medals table.
Firstly, “persecuted” groups don’t usually get their ex-leaders screeds published on the front pages, so that might have been a mistake. Also, the repeated references to “Lord” just highlight the automatic membership of parliament that you and your co-persecutees get, so perhaps you should have asked them to strip that out of the article too. Oh, and being a gendered title it also gives away that you’re male. Minus several oppression points.
At least there is no photo in the paper version, because the one in the online version gives away that you’re white. And I don’t think that stick is for walking either, so it appears you’re able-bodied.
Choice of other groups to go after is important too. Attacking the gays probably wasn’t great, perhaps you should have picked a less marginalised group instead? A bit tough I know, because you are a member of the majority religious group in this country.
Finally, I’ll admit to making assumptions here but as you’re married and an archbishop I’m going to hazard a guess that you’re straight. And probably not transgendered, either.
Sorry, what was the basis for your claims of persecution as a middle-class, white, able-bodied, straight, cis-gendered member of the religious majority with an automatic seat in parliament again?
(A bisexual trans woman of uncertain religious beliefs in a same-sex polyamourous relationship whose communities have much to gain from same-sex marriage, but still able-bodied, middle class and white and able to recognise she has a huge amount of privilege)
P.S. Luckily, I don’t think you speak for the majority of Christians. Or even the majority of members of the Anglican church. Pretty sure you’re not speaking for most of the ones I know, anyway.
A number of amendments for trans people have been submitted formally in parliament, but unless you’re a legal whiz with some spare time to hand it’s not immediately obvious what they are. So, here’s a quick guide to what the relevant ones do…
Amendment 4 – Prevent voiding of marriages with a trans person
At the moment, a spouse can have a marriage voided (As if it had never happened) by claiming they did not know that their partner had a gender recognition certificate at the time they married, and this amendment removes this. There is no similar provision covering, for example, religion or similar and creates a situation whereby a spouse who does know about their partner’s history later claims ignorance if their partner is not very publicly “out”.
Amendment 5 – Remove spousal veto of legal recognition of gender
Because a marriage would, under the existing system, need to be converted to or from a civil partnership on one partner transitioning, there is a requirement for an interim Gender Recognition Certificate to be issued and the existing partnership be annulled prior to full recognition of legal rights. This was done to prevent a spouse being forcibly re-entered into a new relationship (Civil partnership or Marriage) they didn’t want and could not get out of due to the one-year minimum term before divorce can be applied for in a new relationship.
This is no longer the case, but the bill did not reflect that fully. Instead, it allowed a partner to delay or potentially block someone getting full legal rights in their acquired gender by refusing to give consent, a situation that would also incur additional costs for the trans person by forcing them to use the interim GRC process.
The amendment levels the playing field by only issuing an interim GRC if both parties request it, rather than simply if the spouse refuses consent. (As it stands, it also causes an Interim GRC to be issued in the case of a civil partnership, because the current bill does not allow for mixed-sex civil partnerships)
It takes 2 years post-transition to get a GRC, so an unhappy spouse still has plenty of time to apply for divorce.
Amendment 6 is tidy-up related to amendment 5, removing clauses that are no longer relevant.
Amendment 7 – Restoration of lost marriages
This simply allows marriages that had to be annulled so that someone could get legal recognition to be reinstated as if they had never been broken. If you want to know more, Sarah wrote about this for the Huffington Post.
Amendment 8 – Reissue of marriage and birth certificates
The bill did not make reissue of marriage certificates explicit, but this amendment does. It allow allows birth certificates to be reissued, with consent of all concerned. (The other named parent if the child is under 16, otherwise the child themselves)
There is still more we’d like to get done (Fixing pensions issues and swapping gendered terms like husband/wife for gender-neutral and non-binary terms like partner) but time is limited! Hopefully they’ll get in too eventually.
Of course, tabling amendments doesn’t mean they will pass but it does mean we are well on the way.
I just had a very quick initial scan of the Government’s response to the Equal Marriage consultation. (PDF Link) Headline issues of particular interest to Bi and Trans folk are as follows:
Civil partnerships will be retained, but open to same-sex couples only. This is disappointing, as it’s effectively giving same-sex couples more rights than mixed-sex couples. There is a legal challenge in the works already to try to open this up to mixed-sex couples, and presumably that will now go ahead.
Civil Partnerships (CPs) can be converted into marriages, either for transition or just because a couple wishes to do so. This will be required for those transitioning but already in a CP, because mixed-sex CPs will not be allowed. Conversion due to transition will become part of the Gender Recognition process, but will require written consent of the spouse as well as the transitioning person. Once an interim Gender Recognition Certificate has been obtained, the choice is either to convert to marriage or go through the current system and annul the existing marriage.
The handling of paperwork on transition, e.g. would a replacement marriage certificate be issued still showing the initial marriage date, is still up for discussion.
In an announcement that I know will upset a great many people, marriages stolen under the old system of forced-divorce will not be reinstated.
Interestingly, 3% of respondents indirectly stated they were Trans and married, a surprisingly high proportion. Another 3% were identified as being spouses. In both cases, 79% of people said they would like to use the option to retain their existing marriage.
Opposite sex couples will continue to be able to annul their marriage on the grounds of non-consummation. This may be of particular interest to some non-op Trans folk as well as other groups, such as those with disabilities where consummation is physically impossible and both people knew it when they got married.
And finally, the one you’ll no doubt read in the mainstream sources: Religious (Not just civil, as I’d initially thought from earlier statements) marriage in religious premises will be allowed as long as both the minister and the wider church agree to it.
Here’s the document that’s creating the fuss. (PDF Link) Quoting from “Key Findings” on page page 28: (The Daily Mail quoted this bit too)
…the majority of British people now accept the concept of same-sex couples as being
‘rarely wrong’ or ‘not wrong at all’…
That’s somewhat different from the Daily Mail headline, isn’t it? Well, they cherry-picked one particular statistic from the document for their headline, which was a separate 2006 EU study. If we look at answers to more recent studies, in 2007 about 48-49% of people thought same-sex relationships were “Rarely” or “Not at all” wrong, with about 37% thinking it was “Mostly” or “Always” wrong. (The remainder expressed no overall opinion – I’m ignoring the 2006 drop in those that think it’s wrong as a blip)
Notably, it’s also increasing in favour at a rate of nearly 2% per year. Remember that, it’s important.
So it’s clear that the public are in favour of same-sex couples, but marriage is a little different.
Their anti-marriage headline is based on five-year-old EU data and only quotes gives figures for the number of people who approve, without giving figures for the number of people giving a neutral (“Don’t know”) answer, because they are comparing attitudes across Europe. So, it’s off to the original source data. (PDF Link – 10MB)
Page 43 is the relevant section, with an EU-wide “Don’t know” rate is 7%. This would mean that if 46% agree that it’s OK, about 47% are against – it’s a wafer thin margin. Given only 100 people were interviewed, that’s well within any statistical margin of error.
Updated:It’s been pointed out by a Pink Paper commenter, that the full figures are on page 80 of this document. The UK figures are that 46% agree, 9% don’t know and 45% disagree with equal marriage. There were also 1,308 interviewees, so this falls within the margin of error for the survey. Update ends
And that was 5 years ago.
And attitudes have shifted in favour.
I think it’s pretty safe to conclude that the public is probably, by now, in support of equal marriage overall. It’s certainly wrong to conclude that they’re against it, based on the sources given.
Foreign news stories that feature Trans issues can get confusing. There are often mistranslations and missed cultural nuances involved and this story from Cuba (BBC Link) is a good example. The headline when originally posted was “Cuba set for first ‘gay wedding’“. Which was rather incorrect and problematic, as the updated headline now illustrates: “Cuba gay man and transgender woman marry“.
For clarification: She’s a post-op transwoman. So it’s actually a straight marriage.
So, where did the “gay” come from? It’s not clear. Appropriation by the local LG community? If so, and the translations are accurate, the groom at least seems to be part of it:
This is the first wedding between a transsexual woman and a gay man,” Mr Estrada, 31, said.
“We celebrate it at the top of our voices and affirm that this is a step forward for the gay community in Cuba.”
But there is some confusion on the matter even in Cuba:
Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, who acted as a godmother at the ceremony, said that while the marriage was not technically a gay wedding “it is the closest we have come”.
I don’t know if there’s possible mistranslation from the Spanish going on here – do the Cubans have a word for “bisexual”? Or are transwomen just viewed as “gay men” over there? Either way, the original “gay wedding” headline certainly did not read well in this country.
Details are still a bit scarce as it’s not been “officially” announced yet but there’s a consultation on Marriage Equality in the works – most likely being announced by Lynne Featherstone MP this morning. (Possibly even right now) I don’t know exact timetables, but the Guardian hints at the consultation starting in May which would point towards something hitting parliament in 2012, in line with what I’ve heard elsewhere. Amusingly and hypocritically, it seems this is “painfully slow” for Stonewall’s Ben Summerskill, whose organisation was largely against marriage equality until just a few months ago.
Timetables aside, I do have a good idea of what is in the consultation and it’s includes everything I believe has been campaigned for, which is a good signal for eventually getting some very positive changes to the law. Much of the detail of this has been ignored by the mainstream media of course, because they’re just reporting “Gay Marriage!”
Covering the T angle first, there will be a fix for the current situation where Trans folk need to annul their marriages to get a Gender Recognition Certificate. As well as the emotional drain, (Yes, you can re-marry, but it’s still significant) this is currently particularly problematic for a number of people because they are unable to access their state pension without a GRC and can lose some private pension rights if they do “divorce”!
It’s also likely that there will be a way for existing Civil Partnerships to be converted into marriages and vice-versa, so anyone that’s already gone down the route of a Civil Partnership can get it “fixed”.
And for the rest of the non-Trans community – LGBT and heterosexual alike – it’s much as predicted. Access to Civil Partnerships for opposite-sex couples, access to Marriage for same-sex couples and allowing civil partnerships in church. This last point pleases me, not because I’m particularly religious but because elements of the religious right were effectively stifling other religious groups – such as the Quakers, who we heard much from at the Liberal Democrat conference debate no the topic last year – who did want to be able to offer
civil partnerships full marriage to couples, regardless of gender. This was despite the fact that no religion is being forced to conduct ceremonies if they don’t want to.
It’s not unknown for governments to change their minds after consultation – that’s why it’s a consultation – but I’m encouraged by the announcement. The Conservatives already know they are going to get attacked by the more homophobic elements of the right wing press for this and would not have let it get this far if they did not expect to see it on the statute books.
Sometimes, it’s amazing how little information can generate so much news. This weekend, there has been much speculation about equal marriage, apparently due to an article in the Sunday Times suggesting that Lynne Featherstone, LibDem Minister For Equalities will be announcing… well, something. Later this week, we’re told. (It’s paywalled, so I’ve not seen the article)
Other news outlets have taken a different angle, with The Independent and The Guardian concentrating on religious civil partnerships being allowed in churches. It’s worth noting that religious organisations will simply be given the choice under all proposals I’ve seen and none will be forced. Several groups have come out saying they want to allow same-sex marriages and at last years Liberal Democrat Autumn conference, when Marriage Equality became official party policy, we had three Quakers independently speak in favour of allowing this. I’m not sure why this is significant, but it may be that this is something that can be enabled by Ministers without requiring a bill in parliament, so may happen sooner than full equality.
I hate basing blog posts on no information – readers may have noticed I tend to try to copiously link to sources. My statistics suggest that few people follow up the links, but I trust that if I did slip up someone would call me out on it in the comments. However, I could hardly not post about a Marriage Equality story in the news given that I picked up much of my readership after last years Stonewall/Marriage Equality controversy
What I do know is that I’ve been told (Face-to-face) by more than one backbench LibDem MP that they expect to see a full marriage equality bill (So heterosexual civil partnerships, plus sorting out the Trans people having to divorce issue) in this Parliament. Personally, I had not expected to hear anything before the next Queen’s speech at the earliest, so perhaps this is welcome news… if it’s true.
The conclusion? Something may be announced this week. Perhaps.