Federico Podeschi and Darren Williams, one of the first same-sex couples to marry in the UK last month, filed an instanza (Initiative of the Council) in San Marino’s official government office on Sunday to have their marriage recognized. Podeschi is originally from San Marino. The istanza is now before the two Reggenti (Governors) of San Marino who have a month to approve or reject the initiative. If approved the initiative would be introduced in the Consiglio Grande e Generale (San Marino legislature) and then the istanza will face a vote. The mandate of the Reggenti lasts only 6 months so in October San Marino will elect another two governors (and then in April 2015). If the two Reggenti reject the istanza the citizenry of San Marino could file the same initiative the first Sunday after the October elections.
San Marino is a beautiful little country that is effectively part of Italy, although it maintains its own government. We visited there a couple years ago – it has three fairy-tale castles perched on a tall hill, overlooking the Italian countryside below. Will this tiny nation effectively leapfrog Italy on LGBT rights?
The Dallas Voice reports:
The Denver-based court will hear oral arguments Thursday in the Utah same-sex marriage case Herbert v. Kitchen. By order of the court, there will be no audio or video recording, broadcasting, photography, blogging, tweeting, emailing or any other broadcast mechanism or wireless communication anywhere in the courthouse during oral arguments. In that crowded courtroom, a three-judge panel will scrutinize the Dec. 2013 decision of U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby (an Obama appointee). Shelby ruled that the state constitution’s definition of marriage as being only between “a man and a woman” is not permissible under the U.S. Constitution. He said the law’s prohibition of same-sex couples marrying violates the due process and equal protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution. He said the ban denies gay and lesbian citizens their “fundamental right to marry and, in doing so, demean[s] the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason.”
Countries Have the Right to Make Gays Criminals
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma basically threw Uganda’s gays under the buss, saying “South Africa respects the sovereign rights of other countries to adopt their own legislation” in regards to Uganda’s new anti-gay law. Because why should someone who lived under a system of apartheid for decades have any empathy for the oppression of others?
It’s a Hate Parade
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is encouraging other Bishops to support a “March for Marriage being planned by the National Organization for Marriage in DC on 6/19. Because nothing shows your Christlove like marching against the gays.
I Still Hate Gay Marriage
Just in case there were any doubts, Ohio Governor Jon Kasich reaffirmed his opposition to marriage equality: The people of the state, including me, voted years ago on a constitutional amendment to say that marriage is between a man and a woman. “(Black) has overruled that in some respects, and that’s what a federal judge can do. But it doesn’t change the fact of how people voted.” Yes, and because someone votes on something at one point in time, that thing should never be changed, ever, for the rest of time. Has Kasich looked at the marriage equality polls lately? He probably thinks they are “skewed”.
The Bible is On the Wrong Side of History, and So Am I
Standing by his opposition to marriage equality, Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said “When people say, ‘Why don’t you just kind of get on the right side of history?’ I said, ‘You’ve got to understand, this for me is not about the right side or the wrong side of history, this is the right side of the Bible”. because, obviously, his interpretation of the Bible is the only one that counts. I assume he advocates stoning adulterers and doesn’t eat shellfish, too?
The Gays Are Throwing Bricks at Me
Massively anti-gay Scott Lively says he is receiving the Pink Brick “award” from SF Pride. The Pink Brick is a symbol of the first brick hurled at the Stonewall Riots in 1969. This faux award is an opportunity to highlight an individual or organization that has done significant harm to the LGBT community. It is also an opportunity to educate the community and the Pink Brick recipient about relevant issues. But he also claims to have had an actual pink brick thrown at him in 2011, though many think this was a hoax to draw attention to himself and to paint himself as the “victim” of the “militant gays”.
Abnormal Gays Are Ramming it Down My Throat
UKIP candidate Douglas Denny sys “I just wish they would keep their homosexual nature and practices to themselves and stop trying to ram it down my throat telling me they are ‘normal’ when they are not.” What is it with these right-wing guys and their oral fixation?
It’s Now a Crime to Be a Christian in America
Yes, Bryan Fischer says that because the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case of a Photographer in New Mexico who refused to photograph a same sex wedding, being Christian is now a criminal act. Nevermind that the photographer in question was never “charged” or put in jail. And nevermind that in many countries, it actually is a crime simply to be gay, something you are born with, and is punishable by long prison terms and in some cases, death. Are there any countries where it’s actually a crime to be Christian (something you choose to be, BTW)? If there are, the US certainly isn’t one of them.
The Wisconsin Gazette reports:
Polling released today shows support for marriage equality in Wisconsin at 51 percent. The survey was conducted in March by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and released by Fair Wisconsin, the state’s largest LGBT civil rights group. “Just like the rest of the country, Wisconsinites support fairness and equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community much more than even just a few years ago,” said Katie Belanger, president and CEO of Fair Wisconsin, in a news release today (April 8).
State after state is crossing the 50% threshold, but we’d love to see it at two-thirds, like in Ireland.
Here’s our daily quick round-up of the marriage equality and LGBT rights stories that don’t warrant a full posting on the blog, or that we just didn’t have time to add. We’re able to get more news and analysis to you this way every day – enjoy!
Egypt: Four men have been sentenced to up to eight years in prison for the crime of homosexuality. full story
Europe: The European Parliament adopted a new resolution to ensure all member nations recognize the relationships of all European families, gay and straight. full story
Italy: A new “heterosexual pride” organisation has launched in Italy, and will hold its first gathering next month. full story
Netherlands: A court ruled in favor of adoption rights for lesbian mothers. full story
Russia: A gay couple in Sochi has married in Argentina and is now seeking asylum there. full story
UK: Tom Ford just married his long-term partner Richard Buckley in the UK. full story
UK, England: A Bristol newspaper editor says his sales dropped when he published a photo of a same sex wedding o the paper’s cover page. full story
USA: A transgender man’s widow has won her battle against a pension provider. full story
USA: The Social Security Administration has updated its policy regarding transgender citizens, making it easier for them to obtain benefits. full story
USA, Indiana: A federal judge has set a hearing date for April 10th in a marriage equality lawsuit. full story
USA: The “trans 100″ list of the top transgender advocates has been released. full story
USA, Kentucky: A survey was distributed to University of Kentucky students asking if they believe homosexuality is a sin, perversion, or mental illness. full story
USA, Mississippi: Tony Perkins attended the signing of the Right to Discriminate bill in Mississippi. full story
USA, Iowa: The state just celebrated the fifth anniversary of the marriage equality ruling there. full story
USA, Louisiana: Freshman Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA), who campaigned on family values and against marriage equality, was caught on camera making out with a female staffer. full story
USA, Nebraska: A bill that would prohibit discrimination in housing and employment has stalled in the state Senate after a conservative-led filibuster. full story
USA, Ohio: A state lawmaker has renewed his calls to seek impeachment of a judge who is ruling in favor of marriage equality. full story
USA, Utah: The hearing in the Utah marriage equality case will be a full hour, twice as long as usual. full story
USA, Virginia: 14 state attorneys general filed a brief in the marriage equality lawsuit essentially arguing that the protections of marriage should not apply to the children of same sex couples. full story
USA, Virginia: Anti-gay activist Mathew Staver submitted a brief supporting the state;s marriage equality ban, calling it “rational”. full story
USA, Wyoming: Wyofile looks at the Wyoming marriage equality lawsuit. full story
First off, former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson:
“Speaking as a conservative, a lifelong Republican, and a son of the West, Senator Simpson talks of his values of freedom and limited government and the joy of marriage,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. “The ad shows the bipartisan momentum for the freedom to marry. And recent rulings against marriage discrimination by nine out of nine federal district judges show the legal trajectory of our campaign: toward more freedom, more dignity, and more families enjoying equality under the law.”
And a former US President’s daughters think he would have been supportive.
The Advocate reports:
It’s impossible to say how the late president Lyndon B. Johnson would feel about marriage equality — but his daughters suspect he would be for it, they told Katie Couric in a recent interview for Yahoo! News.
“I think my father felt very strongly that when there was bigotry anywhere, prejudice anywhere, all of us lose out,” said Luci Baines Johnson. “Because it’s just one more expression of hate.”
Added her sister, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb: “It’s hard to project what Daddy would have thought about that because that wasn’t an issue that had come upon the States at that time. But I know he really wanted everybody to be able to live up to the best that God gave them.”
Two more steps toward full equality.
Pink News reports:
The Church of Norway has voted not to allow same-sex couples to be married by its priests in a close run vote. Proposals to introduce a marriage liturgy for gay couples were voted down at the start of the Church’s national synod on Tuesday morning, with 64 of 115 votes against and 51 in favour. “We are disappointed, but it’s OK to be disappointed sometimes, ” Bard Nylund, the leader of Norway’s national association for gay, bisexual and transgender people, told Norway’s VG newspaper. “We want to make it clear that we are happy that there is a struggle, and that so many in the Church are willing to stand up and be counted.”
It was a close vote, and times are changing quickly. Maybe the next time the Church will move forward.
Ian Millhiser at Think Progress has some insights:
If anything can be read into the Court’s decision not to hear the Elane Photography case, however, it is probably that the Court’s conservative wing was unwilling to take this bet. The Court’s four more liberal members had no reason to disturb the New Mexico Supreme Court’s decision — they probably agree with it — and the four most conservative justices may have decided to give this case a miss because they were worried that Kennedy would join the liberals if forced to decide Elane Photography… While Elane Photography is technically a free speech case and not a religious liberty case, it also presents the question of whether a religious business owner can ignore a business regulation. So if Kennedy was unwilling to decide Hobby Lobby in a way that would allow religious objections to trump anti-discrimination law, it is likely that he would have had the same concern in Elane Photography. That may have been enough to convince his fellow conservatives to avoid Elane Photography.
Lisa Keen at Keen News agrees:
The photographer had claimed that she had religious beliefs that compelled her to refuse accommodations to the lesbian couple, and the case was viewed as one of many disputes heading to the U.S. high court that pitted religious beliefs against non-discrimination laws. But the case was never pitched as a free exercise case and that may be why the Supreme Court didn’t take it, said Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Jenny Pizer. Tobias Wolff, an attorney helping represent the lesbian couple, said, “No court in the United States has ever found that a business selling commercial services to the general public has a First Amendment right to turn away customers on a discriminatory basis.”
When the case began, the was no marriage equality in the state. Now, as it ends with a whimper, New Mexico has embraced the right of gays and lesbians to marry. Now we await the court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, which could have profound effects on the religious liberty vs. gay rights arguments in the US.
The Advocate reports:
The ads are set to begin airing Tuesday, with one featuring a large Mormon family and another starring former TV news anchor Terry Wood. Wood says he’s happy to lend his voice to the movement, as it gives him an opportunity to show how his family is directly affected by the issue. His gay son Damien married his husband five years ago in California, but their marriage is not currently recognized in their home state of Utah. “Love is the reason people get married,” Wood said. “My son and his husband have the same love for each other that my wife and I have for each other.”
Ads like these are as important as lawsuits – while our day in court allows us to clear away all the clutter and lies, these ads speak directly to the people who we interact with every day, and can help sway public opinion in support of those court decisions.
Please mark your calendars now to join Marriage Equality USA and partners for a national COMMUNITY CALL to be held on the evening of April 10 to discuss the day’s events surrounding the Utah marriage equality case.
TIME: 9:30 PM ET/8:30 PM CT/7:30 PM MT/6:30 PM PT
Sign up now to receive the call in information!
On April 10, 2014, the 10th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the Utah marriage equality case, Kitchen v. Herbert. The hearing is the first federal appellate court hearing on the freedom to marry since last summer’s landmark Supreme Court decision overturning section 3 of DOMA.
You are invited to our Community Call to discuss what happened in the courtroom, hear community reaction, and to ask questions about where we go from here.
Participants on the call will include:
Longtime LGBT and marriage equality activists Colleen and Jolene Mewing, a married Utah couple who will be directly affected by the outcome of the case and who will be in the courtroom April 10;
John Lewis, Marriage Equality USA’s Legal and Public Policy Director and Kathleen Perrin, legal expert, who together will discuss the legal aspects of the case;
and Brian Silva, Marriage Equality USA’s Executive Director.
To receive the call in information, sign up at www.tinyurl.com/utah10. All attendees will receive the information on the morning of April 10.
On 10 April 2014, the 10th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the Utah marriage equality case, Kitchen v. Herbert. Marriage Equality USA will be sponsoring a Community Rally in Utah and a national Community Call open to the public that evening.
“This hearing is the first federal appellate court hearing on the freedom to marry since last summer’s landmark Supreme Court decision overturning section 3 of DOMA,” said MEUSA Executive Director Brian Silva. “All eyes will be on the 10th Circuit as unprecedented momentum for marriage equality continues nationwide.”
“Since the hearing will take place in Denver and many Utahns won’t be able to attend, Marriage Equality USA is hosting a local community rally in Salt Lake City that evening to keep the momentum going!” said MEUSA Utah Organizers Colleen and Jolene Mewing. “Over 1,000 Utah couples who are now legally married, just like us, are looking to the court to say ‘I Do’ to marriage so that all loving couples in Utah can once again exchange vows.”
EVENT: Community Rally in Support of Marriage Equality for Utah
WHEN: Thursday, 10 April 2014
TIME: 5:30-6:30pm MDT
WHERE: Salt Lake City and County Building, 451 S State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84111. Meet on the north side of the Salt Lake City and County Building.
PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS: Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah
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The Irish Times reports:
Asked how they plan to vote in the referendum on the issue, promised by the Government next year, 67 per cent said they would vote Yes, 21 per cent No and 12 per cent were undecided. The corresponding figures in an Irish Times poll in November 2012 were 53 per cent Yes, 30 per cent No, and 17 per cent undecided… When the undecided are excluded from the current poll, the Yes figure is 76 per cent with 24 per cent No, compared to a figure of 64 per cent Yes and 36 per cent No in November 2012. The poll also shows voters are of the view that a traditional family of a father and mother is best suited to bringing up children by comparison with any other combination.
That’s an amazing level of support – if this passes next year, Northern Ireland will be the only part of the islands that doesn’t have marriage equality.
Here’s our daily quick round-up of the marriage equality and LGBT rights stories that don’t warrant a full posting on the blog, or that we just didn’t have time to add. We’re able to get more news and analysis to you this way every day – enjoy!
India: A Bollywood filmmaker, Onir, is leaving the Aam Aadmi Party because they won’t pledge to repeal the country’s anti-gay law. full story
Ireland: Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham is demanding that the Health Secretary explain why he wants to continue to ban gay men from donating blood. full story
Ireland: The band Le Galaxie will host a special concert for marriage equality on May 9th in Dublin. full story
New Zealand: Next week is the first anniversary of marriage equality in the country. full story
UK: Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith says calls to sack an MP who recently faced questions about her expenses are payback for her support of marriage equality. full story
USA, Georgia: Delta CEO Richard Anderson chastised Georgia for trying to pass a Right to Discriminate bill. full story
USA, Oklahoma: The Westboro Baptist Church was run out of Moore, Oklahoma, after coming to protest in the town where a tornado took 24 lives last year. full story
USA, Oregon: The owner of a new local non GMO grocery store faces a boycott for saying that marriage equality will lead to the acceptance of paedophilia and bigamy. full story
USA, Utah: Edge Boston profiles the same sex couple at the heart of the Utah marriage equality case. full story
Thank you for the hundreds and hundreds of emails about the Mozilla- Eich affair. My readers overwhelmingly disagree with me for a host of reasons. But I have to say that this time, the more I have mulled this over, the more convinced I am that my initial response to this is absolutely the right one. And not just the right one, but a vital one to defend at this juncture in the gay rights movement.
So let me concede all of the opposing arguments that have been deployed to defend the public shaming and resignation of Brendan Eich. To recap those points: This was not the “gay left” as such, but the “techie straight left” more broadly. Sure (I’ve been to San Francisco.) He wasn’t fired; he resigned. Undisputed. Mozilla is not your usual company. Obviously not. Being CEO is different than being just a regular employee and requires another standard. Sure. It doesn’t matter because we’re all marching toward victory anyway. Well, probably. This was a function of market forces and the First Amendment. You won’t get me to disagree about that.
So why am I more convinced that what just happened still matters, and matters a lot? I think it’s because these arguments avoid the core, ugly truth of what happened. Brendan Eich was regarded as someone whose political beliefs and activities rendered him unsuitable for his job. In California, if an employer had fired an employee for these reasons, he would be breaking the law:
1102. No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.
Now Eich was not in that precise position. He resigned as CEO under duress because of his political beliefs. The letter of the law was not broken. But what about the spirit of the law?
Editor’s note: I have to say, we’re conflicted over these types of cases – on the one hand sure, no one should be “punished” for what they believe. But on the other hand, I have to wonder if the outrage on Eich’s behalf would have been the same if he had donated to a referendum to strip marriage rights from mixed-race couples. Is it still ok, on some level, to show a public bias against gays and lesbians in a way that it’s not to openly show the same bias towards other races?
In any case, we believe that LGBT rights activists should try to be the adults in the room and show the other side a civility that’s often not accorded to us.
Equality on Trial reports:
The Court had considered the petition over several conferences, and this morning, they officially denied certiorari, meaning that the unanimous New Mexico Supreme Court decision against the business will remain in effect in the state. The challenge was brought by the photography business, Elane Photography, after they declined to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony (before same-sex marriage was legal in the state) and were cited under the state’s public accommodations law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, among other things.
Will this and the Mozilla flap rekindle the fire under those Right to Discriminate bills that were recently shot down in many states across the country?
Here’s the the latest in our ongoing series of some of the crazy things the anti-gay, anti-marriage equality folks are saying and doing around the world.
Gay Marriage Watch Flies the Nazi Flag
We posted Kos’s rebuttal of the whole Eich issue yesterday, and got this lovely reply via twitter from one of our opponents: “I have it on good authority @gaymarriagewatc has this flag hanging in their living room: pic.twitter.com/PVbiar5GaS”, a rainbow flag with a swastika in the middle. And we’re the intolerant ones? Seriously? Please, no hate tweets in response – let’s show that we can be the adults in the room.
The Gays Are the New Terrorists
Glenn Beck weighs in on the Brendan Eich flap, calling gay rights groups “terrorist organizations. Not having noticed, apparently, that none of the major LGBT rights groups called for Eich’s resignation, or even weighed in on it.
Gays Are the New Fascists
Newt Gingrich jumped on the Eich train too. “This is just the most open blatant example of their new fascism, which says ‘if you don’t agree with us 100 percent, we have the right to punish you.” Again, it wasn’t the major gay groups who pushed this, Mr. Gingrich – at least get your facts straight.
Drop Dead Nazi F@gs
And speaking of civility and tolerance, have you seen some of the bile unloaded at Firefox’s feedback page by the religious right? I’m sorry, but what happened to Eich was nothing compared to the nastiness revealed by this attack on Mozilla following his resignation.
Anti-gay groups are getting desperate, with one candidate for governor comparing marriage equality to murder. An Alabama scheme to slip a marriage ban into the US Constitution is moving forward but is pretty much guaranteed to fail.
A judge in Ohio rules that marriage equality isn’t only for dead people anymore. Plus, a major marriage victory in Utah gets put to the test on appeal this Thursday. We’ll have all the details.
I wrote this blog for Pridezillas but felt it was an important one to share with my gay marriage watch audience too. Click here to find out what married gay men think about the battle for Birkins and Balencia playing out in the media.
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THE CLOCKS WENT FORWARD in the UK last weekend, in more ways than one. The official start of British Summer Time with daylight saving coincided with the legalisation of same-sex marriages in England and Wales. So began an extraordinary week for LGBT equality.
On Saturday March 29th, lesbian and gay couples around the country vied to be the first to be legally married, with several timing their services as close to midnight as possible:
An estimated 70 couples across England and Wales took advantage of the change in law on Saturday, and the media was filled with mostly positive portrayals of this landmark for equality.
A BBC survey revealed that 80% of people would attend a gay wedding if invited (though their headline focussed on the negative responses:
Twitter feeds filled with supportive messages from celebrities. Actor and comedian Les Dennis tweeted:
If you’re Gay and getting married today it’s appropriate that the clocks go forward. We are no longer in the Dark Ages. Congratulations.
— Les Dennis (@LesDennis) March 29, 2014
Sadly it was not all good news.
In the early hours of Sunday 30th a gay pub in Bangor, north Wales, was set on fire in what appears to be a response to news of marriage equality:
On Monday 30th, two of the four major national TV channels featured marriage equality in high profile programmes.
Channel 4 was the first to screen a same-sex wedding – not just any wedding either, but one written by the couple and performed by them and their guests in the style of a musical.
The couple met while working on Boy George’s musical Taboo, and used their skills of song-writing and singing to bring a powerful pro-equality message to the nation.
Our Gay Wedding: The Musical, presented by Stephen Fry, gave millions of viewers front row seats at a joyous celebration which transcended gay stereotypes to show far the UK has come from criminalisation and prejudice to more widespread acceptance and affirmation of the validity of same-sex relationships. It did not shy away from the need to continue to strive for equality around the world – as some countries move forward, others such as Russia, India, Uganda and Nigeria legislate to take rights, freedoms and even life away from gay people.
It informed those who may not have known the full significance of this event while remaining popular, entertaining, and accessible.
Meanwhile on BBC2, the channel’s highest rated comedy featured a storyline about a gay couple wanting to getting married in church. Rev, a sitcom about a vicar coping with the demands of running an inner-city parish, portrayed two men asking for a wedding. The vicar struggles to find a way to respect the couple and honour their relationship while staying within church law.
The humour lay in the timely but good natured satire of the Church of England’s objections to same sex marriage and its uneasy compromise of allowing priests to ‘say prayers for’ a couple after their civil marriage, but not to bless them or do anything resembling a marriage service.
WATCH: Rev episode 2
Such was the impact of this satire that on Tuesday 1st April, a vicar blogged that the Church of England was suing the BBC for portraying a vicar carrying out an illegal act on church premises and, as a result, the BBC was cancelling the series.
However, many readers of the blog post failed to notice the date, and fell victim to this April Fool. The fact that it was so convincing shows just how ridiculous the Church of England’s position is – as the state religion, they are obliged to marry any couple in a parish – except a same sex couple, which is explicitly forbidden in the new marriage law.
On Wednesday 2nd April I learned from the blog of international LGBT human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell that the UK Government has launched a public consultation on the future of civil partnerships, the legal unions for same-sex couples which began in 2005.
The options under consideration are:
- Abolish the legal relationship of civil partnership and convert existing civil partnerships into marriages
- Stopping new civil partnerships being registered, but retaining existing ones, effectively phasing them out over a generation
- Retaining and opening up civil partnership to opposite-sex couples.
Peter Tatchell is calling for greater relationship equality by allowing the choice of civil partnership or marriage for ALL couples, as is already legal in the Netherlands. This would end the current inequality where a straight couple who does not believe in marriage but would like legal protection for their relationship but cannot get it. It would also allow gay couples who prefer not to marry to become or remain civil partners under the current system.
If you are UK citizen, you have until April 17th to have your say. Click on the link below to read Peter’s views and follow his links to the Government survey.
On Thursday 3rd I had the pleasure of attending a local community college to talk to students about LGBT Awareness. I was volunteering with Diversity Role Models, a charity which runs workshops with classes of children and young people in which role models speak about their experiences of either being LGB or T or being a straight ally. This was my third day of workshops, though this was the oldest age group I had met, between 16 and 18 years old.
I was hugely impressed to see such a warm welcome and open-minded attitude from these students in a small town – while there is still work to be done to remove discrimination and bullying from schools, the message is one of empathy, and hope for the future.
They listened respectfully to my story about coming from a place of shame and fear of my own sexuality, and how others would react, to my coming out and being part of the first couple register our civil partnership in a place of worship in the UK (see photo top of page) – a landmark on the way to marriage equality that was realised more fully in England and Wales this week.
On Friday 4th, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion of churches worldwide, took part in a radio phone-in programme on London’s LBC station.
In response to a Church of England priest who called in to ask why English clergy were not allowed to decide for themselves whether to marry gay couples, he said:
“I have real hesitations about [same sex marriage]. I’m incredibly uncomfortable saying that because I really don’t want to say no to people who love each other. But you have to have a sense of following what the teaching of the Church is. We can’t just make sudden changes.”
One reason why not, explained the Archbishop, was because doing so could put Christians in danger elsewhere. He explained that he had seen first hand, at a mass grave in Africa, the lethal fallout from a decision on sexual equality taken by Christians in another country.
He said he had been told that the excuse given for the murder of hundreds of Christians there had been:
“If we leave a Christian community in this area, we will all be made to become homosexual, and so we’re going to kill the Christians… The mass grave had 369 bodies in it and I was standing with the relatives. That burns itself into your soul, as does the suffering of gay people in this country.”
The outcry in response to this continues – while he acknowledged ‘the position of gay people in this country, how badly they’ve been treated over the years, how badly the church has behaved’, he appeared to be saying that the deaths of hundreds of Africans Christians is a worse outcome than refusing the marriage of British and American gay people.
True on one level, but it fails to account for the role of religion in the extremes of homophobia which contribute to the deaths of gay people worldwide, such as the Anglican church in Uganda’s apparent approval of a law which threatens to ‘kill the gays’, and to imprison a former bishop who refused to give up his ministry to lesbian and gay Christians. Anglican church leaders in Uganda’s response was to expel him from his post. They also took part in a public celebration of the passing of the law which makes homosexual acts punishable by death.
On Saturday 5th I attended a conference organised by Pink Therapy, an independent therapy organisation working with gender and sexual diversity. One of the conference speakers, psychologist Michelle Bridgman, explained how she underwent gender transition while still married, and is still legally considered to be a man. In order to gain legal recognition for her gender identity, she would have to get a divorce from her partner of forty years who has loved and stood by her. She is taking her case to the UK Supreme Court next month. She is also campaigning against the ‘spousal veto’ contained in the new marriage law which states that married transgender people will need their husband or wife’s permission before they can have their gender recognized.
So, while it’s wonderful to celebrate the dawn of a new era of marriage equality, let’s keep in mind those among us in the UK and around the world still living in the Dark Ages, without equality and legal protection for their identity and relationships.
First published at abravefaith.wordpress.com