>Hitting a brick wall on gay marriage with Stonewall

>There was much anger from the LGBT community, and many VN readers, when Stonewall Chief Exec Ben Summerskil seemed to announce at Liberal Democrat conference that he would not campaign for fully recognised gay marriage. Now nobody associated with VN was at that fringe, so an email was sent from a personal account to try and get some clarity on the issue. To their credit a reply was received within two days, not the five they promise. However, you decide if the response is equally to their credit.

First, the email sent:

Dear Stonewall,

Despite reading your press release, I am still very concerned by the much publicised comments of Chief Exec Ben Summerskill at Liberal Democrat conference last week.

What is Stonewall seeking to achieve if not full legal equality for same sex couples?
How can a leading LGBT advocacy organisation NOT campaign for and believe in equal marriage rights?

I look forward to your response

Now the reply:

Thanks for your email. I’m sorry that you were unhappy about our comments on this issue.

We’re determined to consult people in the weeks ahead about our exact approach because we are aiming to secure a consensus across the whole LGB communities about the detail. We know from experience (when the Civil Partnership Bill was wrecked in the House of Lords) that a perceived failure to build consensus is always exploited by opponents of equality to try and undermine it during the legislative process. We also know from experience that we have to identify and address objections that might arise to any proposal and that it’s better to do that in advance.

We are working on listening to and understanding the views on the future of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage. We will make our policy position clear in the very near future. I hope that this reply is helpful to you.


Not very convincing really is it? Seems a bit like the suffragettes deciding they wouldn’t campaign for votes for women because last time it was a bit difficult. As the original e-mail says, what is the point of Stonewall and similar organisations if they are not going to campaign for equal marriage rights for same sex couples? Of course the issue is difficult, of course views of a variety of communities need to considered and worked around, but you have to know what your ultimate end point is. Stonewall do much good work in education and campaigning, but they seem to have hit a brick wall on a key equalities issue, when many used to look to them for support and leadership.


One Comment to “>Hitting a brick wall on gay marriage with Stonewall”

  1. >I think Summerskill's position is that tidying up some of the remaining tax issues around civil partnerships is a higher priority than what they're officially called – as is lobbying the coalition government to stop inviting foreign leaders round for tea who actively support the imprisonment, torture and murder of LGBT people.

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