Wednesday 12 December 2012

Equal Marriage - Contact your MP

My MP John Robertson (Labour) - are
you in support of equal marriage?
Please check the Coalition for Equal Marriage website to find out if your MP has indicated how they intend to vote on the extension of marriage to include same-sex couples in England and Wales. If they have not publicly ventured their opinion, please write to them and ask them to publicly state their support for Equal Marriage, or otherwise state their reasons for not doing so. I noticed today that my MP has not made clear his intentions, so I contacted him using this website and hope to receive a reply soon. I also asked him to take action to ensure proper representation of transgender issues in this new piece of legislation, something regrettably and all too easily neglected when dealing with these questions. What I said is included below.

Dear John Robertson,

I write to you both in a personal capacity as one of your constituents and in my capacity as President of Glasgow Liberal Youth and Glasgow University Liberal Democrats. As you will be aware, the House of Commons will be voting on a Bill which proposes to extend marriage to same-sex couples, both for civil ceremonies and for certain religious ceremonies (but in the latter case only where that religious denomination is not banned from doing so and where they wish to do so, thus not compelling any unwilling celebrant).

Although this legislation does not apply to Scotland, which is dealing with this matter through its devolved institutions, this is fundamentally a question of civil rights, and the recognition in England of same-sex marriages entered into by people in Scotland and vice versa remains a very important issue, especially given that it is quite common for people to have family both sides of the border.

As I understand it, you have not made your views on this matter public, and groups such as the Coalition for Equal Marriage are unaware of your voting intentions. It is a matter of vital interest for your constituents, many of whom will be an LGBT minority group that we know your intentions on this matter, so that they may maintain confidence that you stand firmly in support of their civil rights. I was hoping, therefore, that you could confirm both to me and publicly, that you intend to support these new measures when they come before a vote in the House of Commons, so that we can make the whole United Kingdom a more free, more fair and more equal society.

I have an additional concern I would like you to raise with the government at Westminster in relation to this legislation, insofar as it affects those seeking to have a change of gender recognised under the Gender Recognition Act 2004. As things stand, if someone seeks to change their gender and they are in a marriage or a civil partnership, that "contract" ceases to be valid, since both marriage and civil partnerships expressly exclude (under law) same-sex and opposite-sex composition respectively. If the opportunity is available to you, please ensure that an amendment is put in place that guarantees that no marriage or civil partnership will become invalid by reason of gender reassignment. In practice this may require that civil partnerships are extended to heterosexual couples, or that civil partnerships are to be abolished and all existing such partnerships converted into civil marriages.

If you could possibly attend to these matters I should be most grateful.

Yours sincerely,

Graeme Cowie

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