miss_s_b: Peter Falk as Columbo saying "just one more thing" (Fangirling: Columbo)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Lots of people high up in the campaigns department at LDHQ think it's great to say that "we achieved equal marriage". They think that because we campaigned for equal marriage, and the Same Sex Marriage Act passed, we should trumpet our achievement. They think that calling it Same Sex Marriage is bad "framing" and Equal Marriage sounds better.

The problem is that although we did campaignget equal marriage. Here is a list of some of the things that remain unequal:
  • Northern Ireland. There is no recognition of same sex marriage there at all.

  • The Spousal Veto was a part of the Same Sex Marriage Act and actually made things worse for trans people. It's not extant in Scotland, but still applies in England and Wales.

  • Likewise, to get a gender recognition certificate prior to the Same Sex Marriage Act, if you were married, you were forced to have your marriage annulled, even if your spouse was supportive. These stolen marriages have never been restored, despite Same Sex Marriage now being legal.

  • Same sex spouses do not enjoy the same pension rights as mixed sex spouses. This is obviously unequal.

  • The church of England and the church in Wales are legally prohibited from performing same sex marriage ceremonies. This is manifestly unequal for same sex couples who are adherents to the state religion.

  • Adultery and non-consummation. To commit adultery, you must have vaginal intercourse with a member of "the opposite sex". Yup, not only is the strict gender binary embedded in law, but so is the necessity for PIV to happen for it to count as sex. This is... problematic for people who do not adhere to the strict one man, one woman, no genderqueer people model of relationships. Non-consummation of marriage and adultery both rely on PIV sex. And sure, reasons you might split up don't apply at the moment of marriage, but not every marriage will last, and equity in the divorce courts is surely a consideration before we start calling it equal marriage?

  • The special requirements for registering premises for the conduct of non-CofE religious same-sex marriages are more restrictive than for opposite-sex marriages in religious premises. If the premises are shared by several small denominations - which is often the case with evangelical, African and pro-LGBT churches - every last one of the faith organisations which share the premises has to give their permission for the premises to be used for same-sex marriages. In effect, anti-gay churches have a veto over pro-gay churches.

  • There's no humanist marriage in England and Wales (despite the best efforts of the lovely Julian Huppert) - which affects both mixed sex and same sex couples, but still means that humanists are second class citizens (unless they live in Scotland). Equal marriage should be equal for all beliefs (and lack thereof) as well as for all genders and sexualities.
Now, imagine you are one of the people who is affected by one of these things. Imagine you have been faithful to your partner for decades, and you've finally been allowed to marry under this legislation, and you retire loving and happy, only to discover that your pension rights are not equal.

Or: imagine that you are a trans person, and your spouse has been supportive all along, and first you had your marriage stolen because that had to happen for you to get your gender recognition certificate, and when that happened you got a civil partnership because that was the best that was available and you loved your spouse, and then when same sex marriage came in you had to get married for a third time to convert your civil partnership into a marriage, and you'd meantime been supporting other people going through transition and the spousal veto had applied to some of those people... How would you feel in that situation if you were told that we'd achieved Equal Marriage?

Imagine you were the chair of an LGBT+ campaigning organisation. Imagine trying to persuade people that there are still inequaiities that need to be corrected, that people are still suffering injustices that need to be righted, that work still needs to be done, when everybody says but we achieved Equal Marriage, didn't we? What are you fussing about?

Imagine trying to persuade other LGBT+ people to vote for your party, when they can look at what your party is saying about "equal marriage" and think but they are completely tone deaf to the actual concerns of LGBT+ people, or else they would know that 'equal' marriage is anything but equal!

For anybody, in any of those situations, Lib Dems trumpeting "we achieved equal marriage!" is going to feel like a proper slap in the face. It's going to feel like the inequalities and injustices that you suffer do not matter to Lib Dems. Equal Marriage, as framing, makes a very ugly picture indeed if you are suffering from one of the unequal effects of the Same Sex Marriage Act.

Please, please, please, for the love of Cthulhu, if you are a Lib Dem, stop saying we achieved equal marriage. We achieved same sex marriage. There's still a way to go before it's equal.

Manifesto Commitments

Date: Friday, May 18th, 2018 12:30 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I would note that all of the things you mention were in the 2017 Manifesto. We should know - we worked bloody hard to put them there.

They will also be in the next one too if I have any say in the matter - which I do, as I'm on FPC.

Alisdair

Date: Friday, May 18th, 2018 04:48 pm (UTC)
hilarita: stoat hiding under a log (Default)
From: [personal profile] hilarita
Yup. I agree. Ever since Sarah Brown pointed this out on twitter, I've been very careful to call it same sex marriage. Which was a huge advance on what we had before! But it's still not good enough!

Date: Saturday, May 19th, 2018 05:49 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
Wow, I didn't know you still had pension inequality! We only recently got same-sex marriage and it was done in a truly shitty way, but sometimes I think the fact that we got the legal framework for not being able to discriminate based on gender first was actually a good idea. And that was back in 2009 - before that my partner and I had to be single people!

Date: Saturday, May 19th, 2018 10:25 am (UTC)
po8crg: A cartoon of me, wearing a panama hat (Default)
From: [personal profile] po8crg
There are two sorts of pension inequality: one is that women's state pensions (used to) start at 60 rather than 65 for men. You can claim a state pension based on your spouse's National Insurance contributions, but you have to wait until 65 in a same-sex marriage, so lesbians get their pensions later than straight women. You can claim based on your own contributions at the normal age. However, it'll be 65 for both men and women from November 2018, so there won't be any difference between marriages there.

The other is that pension rights accrued in an employer's pension for a surviving spouse (traditionally, and sexistly, called "widow's pensions") only apply to a same-sex marriage if they were accrued after civil partnership was made legal (ie after 2005), so contributions to a pension would be split between pre-2005 and post-2005, and only the post-2005 contributions are used to calculate the surviving spouse's pension for a same-sex marriage, while all of them are use for a mixed-sex marriage.

The second one was overturned in the supreme court (Walker v Innospec Ltd) last year.

I think (I'm neither a lawyer nor a pensions expert) that all the pension differences will disappear as from November.

Date: Saturday, May 19th, 2018 10:38 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
Thank you for the detailed explanation, and I'm glad it's been overturned in one case and disappearing due to time in the other! We (in Australia) also had that gendered age discrepancy but it had already been phased out before 2009.

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