Thursday, 9 September 2010

Stonewall: Silent on Gay Marriage

"Stonewall is not opposed to same-sex marriage but this isn’t something that we’re currently campaigning on..."*

Here's Ben Summerskill, Stonewall's chief executive, talking to Pink News in July 2009.

"We are one of many, many organisations but at the end of the day, in terms of our priorities, what we've always focused on, is absolutely practical hard outcomes which make a real difference to people's lives … The reality is half the population already call civil partnerships marriage anyway.
"It's one of Stonewall's ways of working. We're always more interested in things that make a real, practical difference to people's lives than perhaps just an intellectual and academic name. And my own view is that civil partnerships have been quite a remarkable piece of what used to be called in the old days 'political education'."

Well yes, Mr Summerskill, but then it must follow that introducing gay marriage would also be a 'political education'.
Yes, it may not bring in any new rights or responsibilities, but its cultural value would be immense - as it would mean gay and straight relationships are actually seen as equal.
An open letter to Stonewall - 'Why The Silence Stonewall? Marriage equality now!' - can be read and signed here.

'Dear Stonewall,

We are writing to ask you to end your silence and openly support full marriage equality...
At present, there is segregation between the institution of marriage for opposite-sex couples and the institution of civil partnerships for same-sex couples. “Separate but equal” is not equal, and many couples who wish to have their relationship recognised as a marriage are denied this right (conversely, there are also opposite-sex couples who are denied the right to a civil partnership)...
Although civil partnerships were a huge step forward and you are to be commended on your work to bring them about, they do not have the same status as marriage. They confer the same legal rights, but there are nonetheless still some significant differences...
At present, your website contains no mention of your position on marriage equality and you have repeatedly declined to respond to questions on the subject (including an invitation from PinkNews to clarify your stance). If Britain’s largest and most influential LGB rights organisation will not even support the principle of marriage equality, calls for marriage equality from the LGB&T community (and its allies) will be undermined...
You have a duty to the people you represent and we urge you to make your voice heard on marriage equality...'

The inevitable Facebook group is here.
Background, FAQs etc etc on the 'Why The Silence Stonewall?' blog.
* Beginning of standard email response from the Stonewall office.

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