T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 79774
posted 02-05-2013 02:22 PM
(It'll be ages before it becomes law, it still has to go through lots of stages and is likely to get held up by the House of Lords, but I don't see any way that this isn't going to go through now in the end. This was the key vote.) I should say that I'm in the peculiar position, personally, of having grave reservations about the institution of marriage generally while being hugely, hugely for equal marriage. In my opinion, this is an Immense deal. The landscape of LGBT rights and freedom has changed dramatically in the last 10, 15, 20 years. As recently as 2005, my local newspaper was refusing to put the Lesbian Women's Walking Group in the events listings, because "we are a family newspaper" - and that change was forced by a change in the law so that it was illegal for them to refuse. I am very, very aware that queer folk need very much more than a right to marry, but I'm thinking more broadly here. I'm thinking that "her wife" and "his husband" becoming more commonplace and unremarkable parts of life in Britain will really, really help with the casual, unspoken kinds of homophobia, will help to embed it in people's minds that queer families exist and are as little threat as any other kind of family. In Britain, a lot of damage is done just by not talking about things. Queerness was generally not talked about when I was entering my teens, and that was harmful. With this equal marriage stuff, queerness is out there for discussion, it's present, it's acknowledged. True bigots will never change their minds, but people who've just never really thought about it are now being reached and realising that queerness is maybe not a worrying thing, hearing from queer people in their own words for perhaps the first time. I recognise that queer folk entering their teens now still face a myriad of issues, and everything is very far from rosy and perfect just because of equal marriage; but I truly believe that this will help, and that this is a landmark. As a very marriage-sceptical person, I am celebrating. (NB: In Scotland, equal marriage is an issue for the devolved Scottish government. Scotland made clear its intention to legalise equal marriage before England did, and it appears to be more strongly supported in Scotland. It just hasn't been done in the parliament yet, which is possibly to do with UK equality laws needing tweaking, which is a job for the Westminster (London, eg also England&Wales) parliament. There is no current prospect of equal marriage in Northern Ireland.)
Member # 3
posted 02-05-2013 03:46 PM
Redskies: I think you know that I'm in a similar spot to you with this. I have political issues with marriage as an institution -- particularly as a legal one -- period.
But it's one of those things where, even though I have no desire or plans to engage in it myself, if it's a right one group of people has, I want it to be one everyone has. Personally, I also feel like making it about more than just heterosexual people, or one man/one woman, also is going to help with the problematic political aspects of the whole thing. And I agree with you with all the other positives you've mentioned here. This is fantastic news.
Member # 79774
posted 02-05-2013 04:33 PM
This also directly impacts trans people who transition while in a legal partnership, because currently, a trans person must legally dissolve the marriage/civil partnership in order to legally change their gender, and then begin a new legal partnership. Talk about the state dictating people's relationships. It's a big deal for people with other issues in play, for example, immigration or mixed-nationality partnership issues, people who need to protect their relationship through it being less socially sanctioned in some way (eg poly or open), people who need/want to have their romantic partner legally recognised universally as their closest family, and probably some other situations I'm forgetting. I have to admit that a mixture of those apply directly to me personally, so you can bet that as much as I have issues with marriage, I want the right to it, and even a year ago, it still seemed like a distant dream. I am astonished at how much the social landscape on this has changed in the last 15 years: it would've been completely unthinkable then. The shift that this represents makes me cry-happy.
Member # 79774
posted 07-16-2013 04:33 PM
Same sex marriage formally became a certainty today.
While it was unpleasant and wearing to hear repeated absurd and homophobic arguments against, it was also lovely to hear the amount of support it had. Anti-same-sex marriage folk and more conservative types were convinced the Lords would never pass it - they were shown to be resoundingly wrong. Funny how those folk always believe that the majority agree with them when they really don't! Admittedly mostly old and socio-economically privileged, many of the Lords are very worldly, thoughtful people and - gasp - a few of them are gay or lesbian too. One came out in the course of these debates. It was a pleasure to hear/read a number of Lords express personal ambivalence but say strongly that all their younger friends and relatives were in support, and that they would therefore support, because they were sure the future would show it was the right thing to do. Excellent, excellent news that NONE of the problematic or unpleasant amendments were passed. No "conscience clauses" for teachers who would want to pretend that same-sex marriage doesn't exist or isn't equal under the law. I wouldn't call it "equal marriage", though, yet. As usual, trans* people's rights and concerns have been overlooked and put on the bottom of the pile, and there are details in the Bill which are offensive and harmful, and smack of transphobia. I wish that wasn't so, it makes me sad, and I won't forget to go on telling the law-makers that that needs to change. Same-sex marriage should become a reality around summer 2014.
Member # 101745
posted 07-16-2013 04:37 PM
Redskies, I think I'm in the same boat with you and Heather in terms of being pretty skeptical of marriage, but I'm certainly in favor of people having that option if they want to marry! So, hooray for this news in general.
I did recently have a long conversation with a friend of mine from the UK about the "spousal veto" issues in marriages where one person is trans, and that really upset me. I'm hoping that gets sorted soon as well. =/
Member # 79774
posted 07-16-2013 05:12 PM
Molias, absolutely on the "spousal veto" issue. I'm afraid we'll be stuck with it for some time, given the usual glacial speed of UK law.
Three Baronesses/Ladies in the Lords did dig really deeply into trans* people's concerns and speak knowledgeably and respectfully about it, which is a big step forward. The final position was that the "veto" would explicitly be over still being married and not the trans* person's legal gender change, but it's still going to result in obstructive partners being able to stand in the way of someone's legal gender change for a protracted length of time. (A person can't be "forced" to be married to a trans* person or in a same-sex marriage against their wishes, so an obstructive spouse could refuse that while holding up divorce proceedings, leaving the trans* partner waiting to be legally free to change their gender.) The other thing which is all colours of icky is that it's specifically been written that someone not being told that their prospective spouse has a trans history and has legally changed their gender would be grounds for an annulment. Given that trans* people in the UK are able to legally make their history invisible to all people and authorities, and that there is no other personal information that can legally be used for an annulment, that's clear transphobia. Hopefully it won't have much practical application, but again, it would leave a trans* person very vulnerable to a vindictive spouse who wanted to remove any rights (financial, for example) they might have had through divorce. I'm mad that this legislation has put cis people's "right" not to be married to a trans* person or in a same-sex marriage if they don't want to be ahead of trans* people's rights to live as who they are and be secure. It's a very sour win, this bill. I feel like my delicious, much-anticipated cake is rancid and rotten. [ 07-16-2013, 05:13 PM: Message edited by: Redskies ]
Member # 107250
posted 07-17-2013 06:25 PM
I tried posting a moment ago and it didn't. Alas, I'll type it all out again.
I was very excited when I found it had been signed into law, because it felt like a huge win, but now, I'm rather more upset about it Redskies, just to clarify, if you've obtained a gender recognition certificate and decide to get married, the whole marriage can be counted and null and void if you don't disclose? Because that makes zero sense from where I'm standing, because a gender recognition certificate means you don't have to disclose ever, and nobody else can disclose without your express permission. So, essentially, isn't that saying "Hey, you don't have to tell anyone that you're trans*, and nobody else can force you to. But, we're gonna force you to if you want to be in a valid marriage"? Also, just out of interest, can anyone tell me what the current standing is on the terms "husband" and "wife"? Are they legally gendered terms in the new Act or not? Or, more to the point, if I am legally marked female, am I allowed to use the term "husband" on legal forms etc, were I to be married?
Member # 79774
posted 07-25-2013 03:27 PM
Sorry for the delay in reply, Kyle.
Eh, sorry to have had the wet-blanket effect! I had a look around to try to be definite in what I'm saying here, but I've not found something precisely helpful. So, this is as far as I know. Perhaps it's important to briefly clarify exactly what annulment is, as I find it's often discussed and reported from an incorrect understanding. An annulment can only be requested by a person within the marriage. A marriage where one or more of the people would be able to request an annulment is exactly the same as, and just as valid as, any marriage where there'd be no possible grounds for annulment. In this case (as far as I understand - right now I can't find something official to back it up, and Parliament transcripts are a lengthy nightmare if one isn't legally and politically trained, which I'm not), a spouse would be able to request an annulment if their trans partner had a Gender Recognition Certificate at the time of the marriage but hadn't told them. So, the spouse, if supported by the court decision, would be able to declare the marriage null and void, yes. And absolutely, that goes completely against everything else that the UK has in place to give trans people the complete right to keep their gender history completely invisible. I'm hoping that this rule is more unpleasant in theory than in practice, as I'm not sure how the spouse would prove to a court that they'd never been told, but given the general world situation of lack of support for trans* people, I'd make no bets. I've heard very little about the gendered or otherwise language that's likely to be used. It's an important point, and one I'd love to know the answer to, too All I've really heard about is dropping the legal requirement for marriage to be between a man and a woman. I don't know if decisions have actually been made yet, or if that's the kind of thing that will be arranged with all the secondary legislation over the coming months. From the content of the debates that I've been aware of so far, I'm not very hopeful about losing the requirement for gendering, because it seemed like intersex and non-binary people and their needs were pretty invisibilised. There's not a good legal position for those folk in the UK, anyway, as far as I know.