Gay marriage takes one more step forward

Dominic Turner

Image © Fritz Leiss

When President Obama yesterday announced his support for gay marriage he made an important and symbolic gesture, not merely of his own ‘evolution‘ on the issue, but of the Western world. It goes without saying that Obama, in trademark timidity, waited until the polls indicated that gay marriage was supported by a majority of Americans, and that even whilst he is personally comfortable with gay marriage, he is bringing forth no legislation to make it a reality. Nevertheless, yesterday marked a historic moment in the Gay rights movement.

I am not gay, and neither are any members of my immediate family. I have many friends and members of my extended family who are, but the issue of gay rights has never affected me personally. But the struggle for equality of all peoples is not a cause to be fought by only those who are affected. Good white men and women marched with their black brothers and sisters to end segregation and apartheid in the 20th Century. Gay rights are fundamentally civil rights and another articulation of the cause for equality.

Here in Britain we have come a long way since the 1980’s and the despicable s.28 Local Government Act, which outlawed the supposed “promotion” (and by that they meant discussion) of homosexuality in schools. Civil Partnerships now allow gay couples to enter into the legal equivalent of mariage. The Human Rights act has been used to allow the same rights of succession in housing for gay couples. One of the most encouraging aspects of the last decade is the leadership of the Conservative Party’s support Civil Parternships, and gay rights. But the hesitation from the lunatic fringe of the Tory Party to recognize gay marriage reveals, at its heart, a regressive and dogmatic conservatism. Civil Partnerships but not Marriage? Those who hold this counter intuitive position march under the same ideological banner that sustained segregation. Seperate but equal. Read more of this post

Universal Emancipation

Ben Wright

Image © Ben Wright

Even today some forms of slavery remain in Britain. I am not concerned about the requirement to work for a living which would probably become even more important in a free society. Universal employment, although frequently difficult to implement even in modern society, is correctly a fundamental human right. I am concerned with forced servitude. There is some concern, for example, that Coalition policy may erode gender equality, aptly (although worryingly) expressed in the Fawcett Society’s ‘A Life Raft for Women’s Equality’.

Although women’s suffrage was an issue since at least the 18th century, even in Britain progress was relatively slow. When John Stuart Mill, elected to Parliament in 1865, advocated female suffrage he was shot down by the Conservative Party. Admittedly in those days the Party had not joined forces with Liberal Unionists. The movement towards universal suffrage was championed constitutionally by suffragists and more militantly by suffragettes. Women’s suffrage was granted in 1918, as male suffrage was extended following the Great War, and more equally in 1928 in the Representation of the People Act. Nevertheless, universal suffrage does not guarantee that males and females have an equal say in society. Read more of this post

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