Trans marriage rights – Lobbying the Lords

As people may already be aware, the government refused to meet the trans community half way on the spousal veto issue. This means the partners of trans people who feel they have an axe to grind would be able engage in delay tactics and stop legal gender recognition for a protracted period.

The ball is basically in the government’s court, but only Lords can vote on individual issues now. Lords are UK wide, so there is no local Lord for you to lobby and MPs will now only get a yes/no vote on any amendments suggested by the Lords. However, the Lords still have report stage and third reading to propose their amendments. There is a chance the government might come back with something positive as they were clearly caught off-guard and Baroness Stowell, the government spokesperson in the Lords, was clearly unprepared to handle issues being raised.

With that in mind, for those wanting to influence the likely outcome of the decision, it would do no harm to write to Baroness Stowell. I’ve mailed her, at stowellt (at) parliament.uk, with the text below and I’d encourage others to do the same.

Some tips:

  • A personal note will carry more weight than a generic one, but feel free to use the text exactly as it is below.
  • Give and credit where it’s due. There’s no point in giving way on issues if we don’t acknowledge them and just rant in future.
  • Be polite. There are enough “swivel-eyed loons” attempting to participate in politics already and they get ignored.
Dear Lady Stowell of Beeston,

Following the committee stage of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill in the House of Lords, I am
pleased to hear that the government is thinking of reintroducing the GRC fast-track procedure.
This will be important for married trans people who have previously chosen not to seek legal
recognition but now wish to take advantage of the ability to do so without dissolving their
marriage. In many cases, the doctors involved in their treatment may no longer be in practice
which would make use of the standard procedure unviable.

I hope the government can make the reintroduction permanent.

However, the news that there was no were no plans to address the spousal veto issue is disappointing.
I would like to echo the sentiments given in the house by Baronesses Barker, Gould and Butler-Sloss.
The proposed amendment, itself a compromise from earlier amendments, granted the barest minimum
protections to trans people from spouses engaged in delay tactics and allowed all concerned to
quickly resolve what can be an undesirable situation all round.

You committed to writing to Baroness Thornton addressing many of the points raised and I would be
grateful if you could, if possible, also include me in that reply.

It is notable that during the passage of the bill, no amendments have yet been accepted by the
government that grant any rights whatsoever to trans people, only to their spouses. Please do not
continue this trend in the House of Lords.

Yours sincerely,

(I included my address at the end, so she will know I’m in the UK)

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