Civil Union

Oct 11


It’s been a big month in Australia – I am just sorry my day has left this blog mostly silent (though I do have a chapter in the new Australian book “Speak Now”!)

The latest news includes, a departing State Premier (South Australia’s Mike Rann backing equality), the Acting Premier of Queensland (basically our Texas) backing federal marriage equality and proposing a state civil union scheme in the meantime, and the national President of the ruling Labor Party saying she also backs equality.

None of this means it’s more likely to happen in the national Parliament this year – but all the momentum is positive.  Keep reading for more details   Continue reading →

Sep 11


David Cameron on the cover of Attitude

If you were surprised that David Cameron, conservative British Prime Minister, has decided to “emphatically support” full gay marriage being introduced in Britain by 2015, you have the facts both for you and against you.

In many ways, Cameron’s conversion is the conversion of millions who have been exposed to the arguments and to gay friends and colleagues over a prolonged period. The change is also special given how far his party has come – putting it well ahead of parties like the centre-left Australian Labor Party, for example.

You can read a detailed account of the Conservative troubled history with gay rights, gay people, and homophobia in “Tory Pride and Prejudice” by Michael McManus.

Aug 11


Much Ado About Nothing Much

Much Ado About Nothing Much

This shouldn’t really come as a surprise … one month after Rhode Island introduced civil unions rather than full marriage (trailing New York on both the time and equality clocks), no-one is much interested.

And why would they be, when you can potter up the road north or south and get the real deal?

I am glad the nine couples in their new unions have some enhanced protections, but I think the numbers speak for themselves. A halfway house is often a nowhere house, and people are obviously voting with their feet.

(And, by the way, you can now get marriage in more US jurisdictions than those left to settle for a civil union.)

Jul 11


 Lesbian Wedding Pictures, Images and Photos

First up – the overall queer community is marrying at the same rate as opposite sex couples in Massachusetts, thanks to same sex female couples outnumbering the men two to one.

Secondly, in terms of UK divorces lesbians were also in the lead in 2010 (maybe not in a good way)  about 3.3% dissolving their partnership compared to 1.6% of the men. These rates are still lower than that of opposite sex couples.

So, we are not marrying less or divorcing more it seems.  That’s  both no news and good news all round the push for equality I would say.

Jun 11


A Brazilian state (in Sao Paulo) Monday approved what the court said is the nation’s first gay marriage.

THIS IS HUGE … If it stands the global population of people with access to equality will nearly double overnight. Brazil’s 200m people make it a world power that is going from strength to strength. What an example to set!

This comes out of nowhere as far as I can tell … Will be interesting to see if the Brazilia Government is grateful to have the issue “off their hands” or whether we will now see Prop 8 style court appeals for the next decade over whether this stands as a national precedent.

May 11



Pride parade held at Paulista Avenue, in Sao Paulo

Pride parade held at Paulista Avenue, in Sao Paulo

OK, so it is only civil unions and not full marriage equality – but this is pretty big. Brazil’s Supreme Court voted 10 to 0 on Friday to recognize the rights of gay couples here to share in each other’s inheritances, pensions, and health plans, and a legal route to divide belongings after a separation.

Those who opt for a homosexual union cannot be treated less than equally as citizens,” Justice Camen Lucia said. The change is backed by Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff

With 200 million people, this economic power is also the world’s largest largely Catholic nation – continuing the tradition of centres of Catholicism being among the most enthusiastic gay rights supporters (think Spain, think Argentina, think Portugal).

Here is how Brazil compares globally

Feb 11


Will Lady Liberty shine on the gays and their marriages?

I often find a big reaction to a string of gay marriage new events in the US – a reaction that often generates more heat than light. And while the US is by far the most organised gay marriage movement, it also the most self-obsessed. So, I try not to report everything in up to the minute dramatic style. To be useful to my global audience, it helps to rest up for a couple of days and then reflect on what has really changed!

This week quite a lot did happen, as this Village Voice summary by Steven Thrasher explains. You need to get up to date with progress in
in Washington DC, Maryland, Hawaii, New York, California and more.  The predictions about what it all means for the 2012 Presidential election are also coming in thick and fast and full of contradiction.

Tomorrow, I will give my thoughts on what difference the Obama Administration intervention will really make and why/

Feb 11


Could Slovenia be next is legislating for marriage equality?

The Slovenian Parliament should adopt the new Family Code proposed by the Slovenian Government, says Human Rights Watch in a letter to parliament members.

The law would extend civil marriage to lesbian and gay couples and put heterosexual and homosexual partnerships on equal legal footing, including the right of same-sex partners to adopt. Boris Dittrich of Human Rights Watch says “The proposed Family Code is Slovenia’s chance to join others in Europe in enabling same-sex couples to participate fully in family life.”

I couldn’t agree more – in fact, you read it first here on The Gay Marriage Blog in Sept 2010. And I am sure Australia’s newest marriage equality politician Tanya Plibersek – of Slovenian descent herself – would join me in that sentiment.

But life isn’t easy on the road to equality – read this piece here to understand how much of Slovenia is still homophobic, and the current civil union system can be frustrating and degrading: for example, guests aren’t allowed to witness the ceremony!

Feb 11


Facebook adds civil union to relationship choices

Good news I guess – Facebook now lets you list yourself as being in a ‘civil union’ or a ‘domestic partnership.’ But it really does beg two questions:  why would anyone would actively seek to embrace the phrases? and why did it take so long?

Maybe I am just a whinger, but if I was in a gay couple in a civil union, I’d just list myself as married. Maybe straights would benefit from the new choice, but that’s not really the greater injustice of the two.  And if you’re gay and insist on listing yourself as being in a ‘registered partnership’ then I wouldn’t want to be your friend on Facebook anyway!  It’s like walking around with a ‘second-class’ sign on your back. You get a registered partnership to protect some rights, not to be proud.

And given that Facebook is meant to be a new-fangled no red-tape, just connecting the kids sort of place (co-founded by a really prominent gay guy who wants to get married – Chris Hughes – it’s surprising that it took this long.  That’s doesn’t mean it’s not welcome, but I certainly won’t be leading a chain of applause for something so obvious.

Feb 11


gay pride coloured union jack

There have been rumbles coming out of the UK for months – suggestions that the new government will back full marriage equality.  It is one of those notions that needs to be seen to be believed, I am afraid, which is why I haven’t yet jumped on the bandwagon.

Why? A number of reasons.

1) The nature of the Coalition Government in the UK (between Liberals and Conservatives) is that nothing is ever quite certain, even when all parts of the Coalition agree. In particular when it’s the minority partners in the Government, the Liberals, who are backing or implementing the idea. In this case, Lynne Featherstone, the Equalities Minister and @lfeatherstone on Twitter.

2) UK already has pretty good civil partnerships. So the need to address inequality is diminished in practice even if it remains just as strong in principle.

3) There has been a lack of unity among gay rights groups about marriage equality. Most famously the leading group Stonewall hid behind a chimera of ‘member democracy’ (it doesn’t have voting members) before finally backing equality in 2010. This was widely derided by nearly everyone from PinkNews down to the gay in the street. When your own side can’t agree, its not a good start.

4) The UK Government does actually have a series of unpopular and complicated budget challenges to deal with.  That could mean marriage equality is a great cost-free way to get back a bit of popularity (happy wedding photos beat photos of the many losers and victims of budget cuts) … it could also easily fall into the ‘too hard basket’

But on the whole I am optimistic.  I can’t show you because The Sunday Times of London newspaper now exists behind an online pay-wall, but it carried a very encouraging headline last Sunday: “Marriage law reforms expected this week to give full and equal rights to same sex marriage” …. fingers crossed! According to the paper the proposal to end the ban on same sex marriage will be announced at the same time as the government announces the time table for civil partnerships to be held in religious buildings.