The British advocacy group Stonewall is reversing its earlier Elton John-approved position that civil unions are just fine — and now says it’ll lobby for full marriage rights in the U.K.
The switch comes after Stonewall president Ben Summerskill defended the group’s opposition to marriage equality because it was too … expensive for taxpayers. (Sound familiar?)
In a statement, Stonewall says it’s “pleased to be widening its campaigning objectives to include extending the legal form of marriage to gay people. We seek to secure marriage for gay people as a civil vehicle on the same basis as heterosexual marriage, available in a registry office but without a mandate on religious organisations to celebrate it. We seek to retain civil partnerships for lesbian and gay people recognising their special and unique status.”
Summerskill’s argument rested on the price tag of absolute equality, which would include opening up civil partnerships to straights — at a cost of 5 billion pounds over 10 years, supposedly. And yet in pursuing full marriage rights for gays, Stonewall doesn’t say whether it also supports letting breeders obtain civil partnerships.
Either way, it sounds like Stonewall is simply playing catch-up with more mobile activists: The always ouspoken Peter Tatchell is leading the Equal Love campaign, which launched this week: “Starting on November 2nd, eight couples will file applications at their local registry office. Four homosexual couples will apply for civil marriages and four heterosexual couples will apply for civil partnerships. Every week until December 14th, one couple will make an application. ‘If the couples are turned away, as we expect they will be, we plan to take legal action,’ Mr Tatchell said.”