One Equal World

After Marriage Reform: What Comes Next?

Posted on: February 14, 2013

In a recent article in The Guardian, Petra Davis questions the height of the bar the LGBT community has set for itself. Instead of pursuing  only marriage reform, Petra insists that the LGBT community must aim for higher, more radical change. Is the LGBT community holding itself back too much, or are baby steps the best means to an end?


Davis uses the House of Commons’ upcoming February 5th vote on the UK’s Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill as a pushing off point for the article. The bill will make civil marriage legal in the UK, where previously only civil partnerships were allowed under law. It will also allow transgender people to change their gender without their marriage being dissolved.


“Many will applaud the move, and without a doubt the right to marry has been high on the priority list” for LGBT advocates, Davis says. “This bill represents years of hard work by the gay lobby, and if passed as read will be a concrete achievement.”


While Davis doesn’t discount the height of this particular achievement, she also isn’t afraid to bring up the elephant in the room: the fact that the Church of England can’t opt in and the proposed amendment to the Equality Act 2010, which would remove “any opportunity for legal action against religious institutions or individuals refusing to offer a service.”


Essentially, this means that LGBT people would be subject to religious discrimination and practices. This is a quintessential example of the issues that are being overlooked in the big picture. Davis cites the fact that LGBT people are at a much higher risk for homelessness, mental health problems, domestic abuse, welfare changes, budget cuts, and more. Same-sex marriage, she worries, is becoming more of a political tool and less of a call for actual social change.


Davis’s article was an intriguing read, questioning the simplicity of the mission—same-sex marriage equality—when the end goal is so completely complex. Full equal rights need to constantly be in the forefront, she says, with the LGBT community seeking more radical social change than what’s currently being sought.


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