Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Brace yourself, I'm going to praise a Labour legacy...

I don't do this often, I'm going to praise a Labour legacy...

Today, there is going to be an historic vote in the House of Commons, which I'm certain will lead to an end to discrimination in marriage laws on the grounds of sexuality.  I am more than confident that this will pass and which will be a great achievement for equality campaigners everywhere. 

I've blogged previously about how ridiculous I think that there's even a debate about it.  It's worth remembering that same sex couples basically have the same legal rights under civil partnerships as they will under full marriage so why is there all the fuss about them being able to say that they are the same as everyone else?  For most of the opponents it's just one of those cases (which happens a lot more than you'd think, you do it, everyone does it), just because they don't see it as a problem, they don't realise how other people are negatively effected by it.  The best analogy I've read for this is the guy leaving the toilet seat up - he's perfectly happy with it like that so why isn't everyone else (thank you www.cracked.com - who said comedy websites can't add to serious debate).  They don't realise that they were the ones with power and that they are suppressing the rights of other people.

Opponents often state that marriage is about raising a family, children, fostering the next generation etc, but then why have I never heard the word "children" mentioned in the vows I've heard in any of the ceremonies I've been to?  Also what if the hetro couple can't have/don't want children?  Tell you what I do remember hearing a lot about, love. I genuinely feel sorry for people who think that their own marriage will be less special because a gay couple have also been able to call their union a marriage, straight marriage will still be special as will same sex marriage - they will be equally special!  The continuing separation of different forms of union helps fuel discrimination, still indicating that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people are somehow still not the same.  Breaking down this separation will help reinforce the great progression that has been achieved.

Anyway, as I do so often I've digressed. I wanted to praise Labour.  They obviously could have introduced this in their 13 years in Government, which would have been nice, they didn't go this far but they did help frame the debate.  If it wasn't for the changes that they did make: 

  • Abolished Section 28, 
  • Made the age of consent 16 - equalising it with heterosexual sex,
  • Repealed the ban on homosexuals serving in the military, 
  • Outlawed discrimination in the workplace and in the provision of goods and services, 
  • Made it possible for people in same sex relationships to adopt,
  • The creation of civil partnerships,
then I don't think we'd be having this vote now, and so confident of it passing (if it doesn't I'll look foolish!) This is one area where they were liberal, and helped to stop discrimination which is allowing us to push for full equality - sometimes you need to take baby steps to reach your destination rather than risk a huge jump only to fall short of the ultimate aim.  I think Labour did a lot wrong in their 13 years, but in all of those aspects I think they can be proud.

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