Tag Archives: equal marriage

We salute the US Supreme Court

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.

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Praise for Lynne Featherstone from the newly-married Iain Dale

LBC Presenter, publisher and blogger Iain Dale and his husband John Simmons have recently converted their civil partnership to a marriage.

Iain wrote about the day they got married here.

He had some pretty fulsome praise for Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat minister who made it happen.

Finally, when we were sitting in the register office going through the paperwork I had a moment when I thought of Lynne Featherstone. Lynne was the LibDem Home Office minister who, with the backing of Theresa May and David Cameron brought in the Equal Marriage Act. She lost her seat at the election, but she will always be able to look back and think that this was a real political achievement. Just as Roy Jenkins will be remembered for decriminalising homosexuality, she will forever be associated with equal marriage. I can think of worse political legacies. Most ministers go through their careers achieving very little. She set out to do something and had the political courage and nouse to see it through.

Cheers Lynne.

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Opinion: Northern Ireland and marriage equality

On Friday the people of Ireland voted on marriage equality in their referendum. The results on Saturday showed that 1,201,607 people voted Yes/Tá to 734,300 voting No/Níl making the result 62.1% to 37.9% in favour. Only one of the 43 constituencies, Roscommon – South Leitrim, voted no but only by a margin of 1,029 votes and barely nibbled into the overall trend of the votes that were being announced. The other forty-two constituencies had all by either a small (only 33 votes in Donegal South West) to a large (27,959 in Dublin South) margin voted yes. Overall 1,201,607 people voted Yes/Tá to 734,300 voting No/Níl 62.1% to 37.9%.

But the other question is where does that leave Northern Ireland, which is now the largest region of the British Isles that does not have equal marriage in any shape or form allowing people of the same-sex to marry?

Firstly if we look at the Northern Ireland Act 1998 it recognises that the people of Northern Ireland can identify as British or Irish or both. This is key now to moving forward. Then from the same piece of legislation we also note that:

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LoveProudly: An interview with Stephen Donnan about the fight for Marriage Equality in Ireland (North and South)

Tomorrow Ireland votes on whether to allow equal marriage. I recently interviewed Stephen Donnan who is one of the founders of LoveProudly , a grassroots group dedicated to marriage equality across all of Ireland. He is also a former Chair of the LGBT group in the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

Mathew: Stephen, tell us a bit about this new initiative.

Stephen: Well, basically, Mathew loveproudly was set up by myself and a number of other activists from Belfast, Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland to facilitate and support the calls for Equal Marriage in both Northern Ireland and in the Republic.

We want to promote and campaign for Marriage Equality and highlight the existing inequalities in the law in both jurisdictions, but in a positive and constructive way.

We don’t want to indulge in the campaign of fear and division; that isn’t what loveproudly is about and we want to follow in the example set by MarriageEquality and Equal Marriage NI.

MH: It sounds great, Stephen, so is this a cross-party campaign?

SD: It’s strictly independent of endorsing or being endorsed by any one political party.

I am not doing this within the confines of a political party, however we have had input and support from various political representatives across the spectrum and across the border.

MH: So what campaigning have you done and will you be doing?

SD: Our first aim was to get the message out about who we are and what we are aiming to achieve and I think we did that successfully when we launched on Valentine’s Day.

Our next step is formulating a plan with the two campaigns.

There is a Marriage Equality referendum in the Republic of Ireland on May 22nd and while we are optimistic we are still very far from an assured Yes vote.

We will be canvassing with the YesEquality campaign in the south and getting the word out on why a Yes vote is so crucial.

MH: How’s it looking in the Republic…and what influence has Equal Marriage having become law in England, Scotland and Wales had on people there?

SD: It is clear that we are living in changed times.

The recognition of same sex marriage in the rest of the UK, and in places as unimaginable as Slovenia and North Carolina, has had a massive impact on the debate here.

If Ireland and NI want to be seen as part of Europe, part of a diverse future where same-sex couples can celebrate their relationships freely and safely, then there’s nothing to lose from a Yes vote in the referendum.

Polls are showing that it will pass but that could lead to complacency and that would be fatal for us.

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In praise of Eric Pickles

We bet you never thought you’d see that title on Liberal Democrat Voice, eh?

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First same-sex marriages take place in Scotland

 

At just after midnight last night, the first same-sex marriages took place in Scotland.

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Civil partnerships can now be converted into marriage

As of last week, couples in England and Wales have the choice to convert their civil partnership into marriage, concluding a historic process of changing the law to give same sex couples the right to get married.

The Liberal Democrats were the first party to support same sex marriage and have delivered our promise to couples to allow conversions into marriage to take place. There is now no reason in the law why two people of the same sex cannot be married.

Liberal Democrat Minister for Equalities Jo Swinson said:

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My proudest day as a Liberal Democrat

fordham and eaglingAccording to the cash receipt slip I was given by the membership secretary of Stanford and Spalding constituency local party I have been a member of the Liberal Democrats for 26 years 4 months and 25 days. I have experienced the lows and highs of losing and winning elections, I have been involved in conference debates, fringes, attending key speeches and declarations, delivering leaflets, knocking on doors, influenced government policies, and when I married Russell Eagling on 5th July this year I was the direct beneficiary of the Liberal Democrats in Government.

Yet today Tuesday 18th November 2014 will go down as one of the days on which I was proudest to be a Liberal Democrat. The two instances could not be more related and yet more different.

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: Remembering the journey to equal marriage

Lynne Featherstone has been writing for Left Foot Forward about her part in the equal marriage legislation. And she had a tantalising hint that there was more of the story to tell.

One day, when I am no longer a minister, I will be able to tell the whole story of how the law came to be. But for now I can publically thank the activists, the LGBT+ community, the cross-party group of MPs, the Home Secretary, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and others for the support they gave.

What has equal marriage meant for LGBT people?

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Opinion: We will not stand aside while persecution takes place

Whilst party activists gathered in Glasgow and quite literally were debating policy F33 Age Ready Britain there was another gathering taking place of a quieter, but perhaps more significant nature.

In the Admiral Rodney Pub, in Southwell, Nottinghamshire a small group of LGBT activists and supporters prepared to demonstrate for equality. Archbishop John Sentamu was in Southwell for the opening of the refurbished Bishop’s Palace and he was accompanied by acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Richard Inwood.

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: Two same sex weddings, one happy politician

Protest against a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriageIt was a struggle to stay awake till midnight on Friday night because I’d been up at stupid o’clock to travel to Scottish Liberal Democrat conference. But I did, just to mark that very special moment when same sex marriages started to happen. In the morning, the scenes of happiness on the television news had me blubbing.

Both Nick Clegg and Lynne Featherstone talked over the weekend about how this isn’t just an important thing for the couples themselves. In his speech to Scottish …

photo by: Fibonacci Blue
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Just when you thought it was safe to like Stonewall…

mark and ros at equal marriage vigilThe relationship between Stonewall and the Liberal Democrats would be described, in Facebook terms, as “it’s complicated.” We might share many of the same goals, but it can all get a bit spiky between us from time to time.

The Observer reports that their former chief executive Ben Summerskill has attacked the Liberal Democrats for being opportunistic over equal marriage, not passing our policy before 2010. In fact, there was huge support within the party for equal marriage and earlier in 2010, the Scottish Party had passed its policy in support. The equal marriage campaign only really started in earnest a couple of years before that and Stonewall itself took a long time to support the measure.

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Video: Stonewall says thank you on equal marriage

Four weeks on Saturday, the first same sex marriages will take place in England. Scotland will have to wait a bit longer, till the Autumn.

You’ll remember the emotions of the parliamentary debates on this. In order to say thank you to all the parliamentarians who contributed, as well as to all the people who campaigned for equal marriage, Stonewall have released this video which shows highlights of some of the best parliamentary speeches made by lesbian, gay and bisexual parliamentarians. Our own  Liz Barker, Stephen Gilbert and Stephen Williams are featured. It made us smile and is just the thing to brighten up a February Monday. Enjoy.

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Scottish Parliament backs equal marriage

Jim Caron Euan Hannah at equal marriage rally 4 FebLast night there were many celebrations across Scotland as the Holyrood parliament passed its same sex marriage bill by a margin of 105-18. All Scottish Liberal Democrat MSPs voted in favour.

While England might have been ahead of the game – its first marriages will happen next month – the Scottish Bill is much better. In Scotland there transgender people won’t have to suffer the indignity of a spousal veto and religious organisations who wish to do so can opt in to perform …

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Willie Rennie MSP writes…Equal marriage is an important step to a fairer society

Most people know that politicians can sometimes talk up goings on in Parliament in the hope of gaining a bit of newspaper coverage. Observers of Scottish politics will be familiar with claims that this or that debate marks a momentous change from what has gone before.

But this week at Holyrood we discussed legislation that can legitimately be described as historic. There is no need to exaggerate the impact it will have because it is plain to see that this Bill will change the lives of thousands of Scots around the country.an act that offers same-sex couples the same protections and …

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Rennie: “You are a joyous, happy force for good” as Scottish equal marriage bill passes first stage

Willie at equal marriage rallyFive years ago, the embryonic Equal Marriage campaign could scarcely imagine that they would get to the point where the Holyrood Parliament would debate, and most likely pass with a stonking majority, a bill legalising its aim.

That they have captured Scotland’s imagination is down to its relentlessly positive, simple campaign, culminating with the It’s Time video. I defy anyone to get to the end of it without smiling.

Tom French, the spokesperson for the campaign, has had to endure some pretty unpleasant, inaccurate, disrespectful challenges during live debates on the media. He is one of my heroes of the year for dealing with such provocation in a very calm, unflappable manner.

Today, the Bill passed its first parliamentary hurdle. Before the debate, a rally took place outside Parliament. I went along with Andrew Brown who writes the widow’s world blog. The weather might have been freezing cold, but the atmosphere was the exact opposite. We sang (although probably best we didn’t attempt the re-written I am who I am on the back page of the song sheet), we chanted, we laughed, we cheered. Oh, and we listened to some politicians, too.

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Scottish Parliament to debate equal marriage within next few weeks

Caron It's TimeWhile Scotland was first to get moving on equal marriage, England beat us to passing legislation. I really enjoyed writing this post celebrating all the Liberal Democrats, from LGBT+ Liberal Democrats all the way to Nick Clegg and Lynne Featherstone, who had championed that particular cause.

Now the Scottish Bill is finally expected to have it’s first debate before the end of this month. Today, the Parliamentary Committee considering it published its report in favour of the Bill. I was quite amused to see that whoever posted the list of those who’d submitted written evidence doesn’t know the difference between a + and a & when referring to LGBT+ Lib Dems. As ever, they submitted a very thoughtful and helpful submission arguing strongly, among other things, for the removal of the spousal veto for transgender people.

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Nick Clegg’s speech at the PinkNews awards

Last week Nick Clegg was a guest speaker at the inaugural PinkNews Awards, which were held in Parliament. In his speech he referred to the fact that the deputy editor of PinkNews had just proposed to his partner during the ceremony.

You can watch Nick here (if only to find out why Stephen Gilbert was so well placed to rescue a woman from the Thames):

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Last chance to respond to Scottish Equal Marriage consultation

At almost the 11th hour, I have submitted my views to the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities Committee which will be considering Scotland’s Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill.

The deadline is today, so you really need to get on with it. The “other side” will make sure that they get their point of view across so it’s really important that the Committee hears from those in support.

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Opinion: Turing, equality and internationalism

What have we contributed as part of the Coalition government?  Well one success (but there have been many others) is enacting the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 which gives  gay and lesbian people the  same right to marry as heterosexual couples.  I have severe doubts that a Tory majority government could have introduced this reform!

Whilst Britain has progressed to an open society where LGBT people are protected by law, many other countries like Iran, Nigeria and notably Russia have not.  However liberal Britain did not just happen overnight, and the changes in our society’s attitudes have taken many decades to …

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How Ed got down on one knee to propose to Russell

fordham and eaglingLast week Lib Dem Voice reported the engagement of Ed Fordham and Russell Eagling, long time Lib Dem activists, which was the first same sex engagement to be announced in the Births, Marriages and Deaths column of The Times. This fact had been mentioned by Julian Huppert during the final Commons debate  on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, to an amusing put-down by the Speaker.

The Independent followed this up on Friday with a delightful full page article (with a beautiful photo) about the couple under the heading: Gay marriage

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An engagement is announced…..

From today’s Times (£):

Ed and Russell Times cropped

Mr E T Fordham, of course, is  better known to us all as Ed, vice-chair of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats who, along with many others from that organisation, took pride of place in our Equal Marriage Roll of Honour.

We knew of his and Russell’s happy news already, of course, because Julian Huppert had told the world about it during the Commons’ final passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill and been told off by the Speaker. The exchange is recorded forever

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LDVideo: Nick Clegg speaks at equal marriage vigil

And finally, ending the week when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act received Royal Assent, a reminder of  the happy scenes when Nick Clegg went out and spoke to the vigil outside. As the London Gay Men’s Chorus sang Dancing Queen, he talked about how he hoped that in a few years’ time, people would be asking what the fuss was about. He said it was perfectly unremarkable for two people who love each other to want to get married regardless of their gender or sexuality. He also paid tribute to key figures who helped bring the bill about. I’ve added to that list here.

I defy you to watch this without smiling. It’s available here on You Tube.

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The Liberal Democrat Equal Marriage Act Roll of Honour

mark and ros at equal marriage vigilAs the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill receives Royal Assent and becomes an Act, which I’m reliably informed will be around now. I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate those people in the Liberal Democrats whose work made it happen. I know that such an endeavour is fraught with danger because I am bound to leave somebody out and they will be upset, or hate me forever, or both, but I thought it was worth the risk – and if I do …

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – Celebrate the arrival of equal marriage

Nick Clegg Lib Dem leaderNick Clegg, writing in Pink News, said:

We’re almost there. We’ve almost made it. With the Third Reading of the Equal Marriage Bill complete, we’re just a few final steps away from the equal right for gay couples to marry becoming law.

I know you’re saving the champagne for when it actually happens. And that’s right. But it’s also important for us to recognise how much your commitment to this cause has transformed people’s attitudes to equal marriage in this country.

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Baroness Liz Barker writes… A big step for a fairer society

Today, the House of Lords should be voting ‘that this Bill do now pass’ to take the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill through one of its final steps to becoming law. Liberal Democrats can be very proud of the fact that it is only because of us that this is happening.

In the Lords, I have been proud to lead from the Lib Dem benches whilst Lib Dem Ministers, including Jim Wallace and Lindsay Northover, have been speaking from the Government frontbench. You can read and watch my opening contribution to the Second Reading

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LDVideo: Willie Rennie says It’s Time for equal marriage

From Pink News – go and read the full story there, but before that, watch Willie Rennie explain why he supports equal marriage:

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An equal marriage video guaranteed to make you smile

It is a very long time since I have felt this good on a Monday morning. I am full of happiness, joy and smiles. Why? Believe it or not, it’s all down to 3 minutes and 28 seconds of  feelgood video from Scotland’s bright and positive Equal Marriage campaign.  Set to the song Pride by Amy MacDonald, it takes in Broadway,  the Coronation Street set, Lorraine Kelly’s dressing room and, most importantly, real places and real couples across Scotland. All Scottish political party leaders feature too. There is a slight irony in that the slogan “It’s Time” was used by the SNP in their winning Holyrood election campaign in 2007 but we’ll put that to one side for the moment.

The video has been released to celebrate 5 years of the equal marriage campaign and to mark the SNP Government introducing its own equal marriage bill later this week. Watch and enjoy. You will be glad you did. For me, it’s very much move over Idina Menzel and West Wing videos, I have a new You Tube favourite.

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Opinion: My marriage will be different, but equal, my Lords and Ladies…

wedding ringsIt has been said that people who vote against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will be ‘standing on the wrong side of history’ – as those of us who know and study history accept, only time will tell.  But yesterday, as we led the Equal Marriage Vigil outside the House of Lords  I was struck that we were witnessing and perhaps even making history.

What occurred at our Vigil can be variously described as glorious, fashionable, tuneful and positive. In short we gathered together the LGBT+ communities and their families …

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Baroness Liz Barker writes … My Lords speech on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

wedding ringsMy Lords, I declare an interest. Many years ago I had the great good fortune to meet someone. She and I have loved one another ever since – apart, that is, from the occasional spectacular argument, usually about driving or DIY. As the slogan on T-shirts in the 1980s said: it happens in the best of families.

Whilst marriage is robust and enduring, what is meant by marriage has developed and changed significantly. Marriage was redefined in 1986, otherwise there would not now be any civil marriages in this country. Marriage laws were redefined in 1949, otherwise under-16-year-olds would still …

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