UKIP and Equal Marriage

I have been debating on Twitter today with a gay UKIP supporter who claims that the reason for UKIP’s antipathy to marriage equality is solely due to the “threat” to churches that the European Court of Human Rights might force them to do so.  He cites Denmark, where the state church is of course obliged to carry out same sex marriages, with proposer protection for the individual consciences of clergy who decline. Most of us say that is no evidence whatsoever that the ECHR would force the Church of England to carry out same sex marriages because here the legislation explicitly forbids it and in Denmark the legislation explicitly requires it. National sovereignty in action. 

He states that he has seen in some article a statement that the only reason the Danish legislature so legislated was because of an ECHR case. He said he read it in the Telegraph. Can anyone help him find any reference anywhere (Telegraph or not) to an ECHR case originating from Denmark forcing a church to marry a same sex couple against the Church’s will? I can’t find anything…

Thank you!


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Why email accounts are sometimes greyed out on iPhones and iPads

Here, courtesy of my excellent email and web hosting provider, is the reason why this irritating issue, about which I have tweeted in the past, happens.

This may happen if you setup an IMAP account on your iPhone and check your folder list before you set the IMAP Path Prefix to “mail” in the Advanced Settings. It may also happen if you originally set the IMAP Path Prefix incorrectly in the Advanced Settings. The correct IMAP Path Prefix is “mail” without the quotes. Your “Inbox” may still be grayed [sic]  out even after changing the Path Prefix to the correct path. This is because the iPhone creates an additional “Inbox” folder when it does not find one, and this extra “Inbox” in your folders can cause the iPhone to get confused. To resolve this, contact support and have them delete or rename the extra “Inbox”. This should resolve the problem.

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Same Sex Marriage – a strange delay

I was very pleased today to hear that the first same sex marriages in England and Wales will take place in late March. This is much earlier than we expected and it’s great to hear.

What was less great to hear, however, is the delay in allowing those of us already in civil partnerships to convert those partnerships into marriage. This apparently is not going to happen until the end of 2014. People may say, what’s the hurry? People like Jonathan, my “civil partner” and I, have all the rights of a married couple anyway. So why can’t we be patient?

The answer is, that we have been patient for quite a long time. All the reasons that were discussed at great length in the Parliamentary debates and public consultations about equal marriage, civil partnership and marriage are separate and not equal. Jonathan and I have been looking forward to celebrating joining the heterosexual majority in an institution which is the gold standard for human relationships for a very long time. We had even pencilled in a date in the summer for the celebration of the conversion, relying on the government’s assurance that marriage would be implemented by June.

I know that there are many greater injustices in the world, but we feel hard done by. All that the government needs to do is create some very simple forms and have the orders prescribing the forms approved by both houses of Parliament. I think I could draft the forms in about two hours flat.

We have been waiting a long time and could Maria Miller please get on with it.

We will do the only two things we can: support Stonewall and write to our MP. Perhaps others would like to do the same.

After all, our female friends are desperate to buy their hats!

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Alan Turing “Pardon” Bill

Alan Turing was very badly treated by the British state. There is no doubt about that. And he is owed an apology. But the Bill, which looks as if it will find its way onto the statute book, is bad for two reasons.

First as many others have pointed out it is a bad bill because all gay people persecuted for being themselves should be pardoned, or none. See Martin Robbins’s excellent piece here.

Secondly the Bill is a drafting dog’s dinner. The first clause provides that Turing “is to be taken to be pardoned” for the offences. Then it says: “This Act does not affect any conviction or sentence or give rise to any right entitlement or liability.”

In other words, Turing is to regarded as pardoned but the pardon has no legal effect. This is mealy mouthed and silly. The bill should be quietly dropped. And the Government should dive into its (empty) pockets and found something meaningful in Alan Turing’s memory. Ideas, anyone?

(By the way, I wonder how Gerald Howarth will vote when this Bill reaches the Commons. Here are more aggressive homosexuals….)

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Lobbying a Lord

I visited the excellent site: and drew the Viscount Waverley. This is what I wrote. Please don’t copy and paste it; however I hope it gives people ideas.

Dear Viscount Waverley

I hope you will forgive the presumption of an unknown individual writing to you about the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, the second reading debate on which is due in the House of Lords early next week.

I am one half of a longstanding gay couple. I am a successful lawyer; my civil partner is an equally successful school head teacher. We have been together in a monogamous relationship, expected to be lifelong, for nearly 20 years. We contribute to the life of the community as a stable and (I like to think) respected couple within our family, our respective workplaces and the other communities in which we play a role. Had we “married” younger we would, I am sure, have raised a family of our own.

The relationship we have can only be described as a marriage. We believe that we – and hundreds of thousands of couples like us – who are contributing to the stability and prosperity of the country should be correctly described as what we are, a married couple, a family.

I do hope you will feel able to support the Bill on second reading and through its subsequent progress through the House. In doing do you will be supporting the clearly expressed will of the elected chamber; the will of the public; and in particular the will of the younger and middle generations (shown over and again in opinion polls carried out by reputabe polling companies); and doing basic justice to people like my partner and me.

I do hope that we can count on your support.

Thank you for reading this and I am at your disposal to answer any questions you may have.

Yours sincerely

Harry Small

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When will Northern Ireland Grow Up

Over my lifetime we have spent a lot of money in ensuring that Northern Ireland did not, contrary to the wish of the majority of its inhabitants, fall into the hands of what was then the priest ridden backward theocracy to the South. The Republic is slowly but surely moving on, having realised that its priest-gods had feet of clay. Her Majesty’s loyal province of Northern Ireland seems to be stuck in a time warp, as two recent events in particular have proved.

First we had the entirely unedifying spectacle of the majority of the legislature voting in effect to stop Marie Stopes opening up a legal abortion clinic or referral establishment. The Bill was only stopped by Sinn Fein exercising a cross community veto.

The we have had the overwhelming majority of NI MPs putting their noses in where it is none of their business trying to block equal marriage in England and Wales. In Committee, we had Jim Shannon trying to block even recognition by NI authorities of same sex marriages contracted in England and Wales.

These bigots are elected. Why do their electors re-elect  them? Or to put it another way why are the NI electors such a bunch of bigots themselves? Maybe the answer is in a statistic quoted by Shannon in the Same Sex Marriage Bill committee: that a much higher proportion of people in NI are regular churchgoers, the statistic being closer to those obtaining in the US than in respectable, civilised, secular Europe. Clearly the NSS has a lot of work to do in the province.

Or maybe we should, now that the Republic is growing up, pass them back their remaining six counties for Dublin to have a go at civilising….

And I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I had the misfortune to live in Northern Ireland I would be minded to vote for the only party which seems, for all its disgusting past, to be seriously committed to social liberalism – Sinn Fein.

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Open Letter from Adonis to Welby

Open Letter from Adonis to Welby

here’s an entertaining letter from Lord Adonis to Archbishop-elect Welby. Welby has of course followed in public the backward and bigoted line of the Church of England on opposing equal marriage. And the Cof E runs some of the most exclusive schools in the country, open only to the rich. 

I have no illusions that Welby will follow Adonis’s lead, but if he did, while it would not push me into the mild mental disorder which is religion, at least it would give me pause for thought on whether the Church, which is somewhat less ghastly than many ot its rivals, should remain favoured by the state.

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Welcome to the new Conservative party, same as the old Conservative party..

I saw an article in the Torygraph abut the new Conservative candidate for Eastleigh. Again, not a stunning advert for the modernised Tory party. the candidate, Maria Hutchings, is an unreconstructed social arch-conservative.

She is anti-immigration (“I don’t care about refugees) – though she claims that remark was out of context and one could so interpret it given that she was wanting to talk about something else instead.

She is a devout Catholic and has the backward views about gay marriage and abortion rights (she’s against both) that normally but not invariably go with such a person. Another one who like Jacob Rees-Mogg “takes [her] whip from the Vatican”. Yes, Jacob, you could have phrased that better.

It is impossible to imagine a less progressive person, a person of more toxic views. And this was someone parachuted in by Central Office. I despair of the Tory party and I sincerely hope this nasty piece of work loses.

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The Tories are not detoxified yet.

An interesting day. The de-toxification of the Tory Party appears to have stalled somewhat.

I found it painful, almost embarrassing, to listen to the reason-free burblings from the opponents of marriage equality in the Commons this afternoon. Mainly their purported concerns for religious freedom (something too well protected by this Bill) were thinly disguised appeals to good old fashioned homophobia. And a majority of the Tory Parliamentary party failed to follow the leadership.

I think that anyone who cares about equality now needs to evaluate any support they may have for this party which might be based on economic factors given what the majority of its MPs did with their votes yesterday.

And the party leader was not even able to spend 30 minutes on the front bench showing his support for his beleaguered troops.

I now know the political meaning of the word “toxic”.

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Some Thoughts on Marriage Equality

I don’t blog often, either personally or professionally. That is partly because I have a rather full life professionally and personally in any event and partly, as my friends will undoubtedly remind me, because I lead a disordered life. However…

This is a subject I’ve felt strongly about for a while so I ought to say one particular thing.

There is no excuse for the British Government delaying in introducing a bill to allow same sex couples to marry, rather than be obliged to settle for the second rate description of “civil partner”.  Most people in the UK support this; most people refer to civil partnership as “gay marriage”; only a decreasing number of the religiously motivated, who tend to be of an older generation, seem to object.

Until gay marriage was on the agenda, I used to refer to my civil partnership (Jonathan and I have been married in all but name for the best part of 20 years) and my partner as “married” and “my husband” to get people to the stage of understanding that there is no difference between a steady, monogamous, permanent union of two men and one of a man and woman. To their credit nearly everyone recognised this although a few people (mainly of religious or provincial background)  clearly found it difficult.

I am now minded to use the word “partner” again – to emphasise that although there is no difference between the relationship I have with my partner and the relationship my friends have with their opposite sex partners the state likes to use a different word for it. All that does is encourage people to pretend to a difference where none exists and at worst to give bigots like the B&B owners in Cornwall and Berkshire (the cases are too well known to need citing) an excuse to try to discriminate against people.

I hope, at the very least, that this might provoke some discussion. But above all I hope that the Government has the balls to move this legislation forward and ignore the hate driven rantings of the sects.

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