Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
This Bill started out as a proposal to legislate in favour of Equal Marriage. The original idea (or the proposals presented to the public for consultation) was that new legislation would apply only to CIVIL MARRIAGE. I believe the proposals should have remained as applicable to civil marriage because involvement of religion and religious beliefs would only ever complicate matters, as has happened following the subsequent government announcement that some religious institutions could conduct same sex marriage ceremonies whereas others were exempt. As an atheist, I do not really care whether religious organisations are allowed to conduct same sex marriages or not. I have nothing against ceremonies being conducted on religious premises for couples of faith, but the introduction of religion into the equation at this stage was bound to add further controversies and complications during the passage of the Bill.
I became aware of the government proposals for ‘equal’ marriage during the period leading towards the launch of the government trans* equality action plan, where I had previously argued the case for non-gendered access to civil partnerships – access to marriage without compromise had been so far off the radar that I had not even thought to raise the matter. Here are my thoughts as applied to non-gendered entering into civil partnership following launch of the trans* action plan outline document in December 2011
“I will continue to push very hard to ensure that non-gendered interests are not overlooked and ignored because we have rights as human beings. Human beings of non-gendered identity should not be forced to compromise the core identity in order to register – and have formally recognised – a personal relationship.”
Click here to read full entry http://elancane.livejournal.com/10434.html
And while I was indeed pushing non-gendered interests, it was always made clear this particular piece of legislation was proposed to allow for same sex marriage and that issues concerning identity outside the gendered societal structure would not feature. Nonetheless, I felt very let down when I read the draft text and recognised the extent to which non-gendered interests had, once again, been completely ignored.
Aware that it was probably not within my power to change anything this time around, I wanted to make a statement in order that my discontent was registered and on the record.
Earlier this month I forwarded a written submission to the Public Bill Committee for consideration as the Bill proceeds through the Committee stage. This can be found on Hansard http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmpublic/marriage/memo/m55.htm
Although able to succinctly make my point, I had kept the submission deliberately brief and wondered whether anyone would bother to read the content. When I read the transcript of the 26 February debates I was rather surprised to find my written submission referenced towards the end of proceedings by MP David Burrowes. The Conservative Member for Enfield, Southgate had voiced opposition to the Bill on a number of points and was not someone from whom I would have expected support, but much of the content of my written submission was read to the Committee. David Burrowes backed assertions made by myself and contained within other written and oral submissions to the Committee that the proposed Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill had not addressed the concerns of those whose identities are fundamentally neither male nor female and that the government must respond to call for equality. After an initial faux pas of a misappropriated gendered pronoun, Mr Burrowes expressed the concerns that I and others have raised to the Committee and I thank him for that intervention.
Here is transcription of the day’s proceedings:
Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
Public Bill Committee debates - 26 February 2013
Morning session (lists accepted written submissions before start of debate):
See under Column Number 250 – for reference to written submission, bringing this issue into the heart of debate.
Under Column Number 254 is the response from Hugh Robertson, Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport
“We are aware of the issue that my hon. Friend raised, but what we are attempting to do is focus on the issue of opening up marriage to same-sex couples. The law in this country has a very binary understanding of gender; rightly or wrongly, that is the case. I acknowledge the issue but do not think that the Bill is the vehicle for opening it up.”
So what is the vehicle for “opening it up”? ‘X’ passports would certainly prove a good opener! And, more importantly, when will this important human rights issue be properly addressed by the government, Mr Robertson? When???
In support of ‘X’ passports in the United Kingdom
Still waiting to hear further from The Identity and Passport Service – over 650 petition signatures and will remain active until ‘X’ passports are a reality for passport holders in the United Kingdom
The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered
Copyright ©2013 Christie Elan-Cane
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