The Con-Dem government recently rolled out a consultation about same-sex marriage. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people can enter civil partnerships that offer the same legal rights as marriage but the proposed change would give equal status by giving legal access to marriage itself.
At present, married trans people have to divorce, then enter into a civil partnership when a gender recognition certificate legally recognises their gender. Same sex marriage would end this nonsense.
Cameron says this consultation is not about whether or not to offer ‘gay marriage’ but instead how to do so. This move was greeted with serious opposition by some Tory MPs who argue it would “undermine the traditional role of the family”.
It was similarly poorly received by some religious leaders. The Roman Catholic church hierarchy sent a letter to be read to all its congregations, condemning same-sex marriage.
It also commissioned a poll saying 70% of the public did not want same-sex marriage. This poll’s methodology was flawed and other polls produced different results, but it didn’t stop right-wing newspapers printing its claims as fact.
Homophobic attacks are on the rise and reactionaries are openly attacking lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) rights, falsely accusing LGBT people of attacking religious freedoms and fostering division in society. They use this as an opportunity to cut across working class unity against cuts and all forms of prejudice.
Socialists support marriage equality, including the right of couples of different sexes to enter into civil partnerships, but we must recognise that Cameron’s sudden shift towards equality is a publicity stunt designed to make the Tories more appealing to LGBT voters.
He also wants to promote marriage as the basis of capitalist society, meaning that family members should step in to provide unpaid care and support where services have been cut or are inadequate. Many LGBT people (and others) reject the assumptions and ideology used in support of marriage.
If he actually cared about the LGBT community his party wouldn’t be forcing through crippling cuts to LGBT focussed services or encouraging homophobic groups to take over running schools. These moves do more damage to young LGBT people’s lives than the right to marry can ever repair.