Wednesday, October 22, 2008

HFEB passes Third Reading

Passed by 335 to 129 votes.

Any Commons amendments will need to be agreed by the Lords prior to Royal Assent.

I do though regret that it has not been possible to improve the regime for access to abortion services and that Westminster has not been able to legislate to help women in Northern Ireland.

Some things I am waiting for

The outcome of the US Presidential election (According to Obama has a steady projected lead - however we all remember the last 2 contests and the Republicans are playing dirty - no surprises there). I am getting most of my up to date info from Sullivan's Daily Dish (pro Obama blog).

The outcome of the vote on Prop 8 in California (see previous)

The outcome of the Indian Court case over the constitutionality of India's retention of laws criminalising homosexual acts from the British Empire.

Same sex marriage losing in California

Latest polls show homophobic Proposition 8, restricting marriage to heterosexual couples and intending to upend a Constitutional provision of non-discrimination enacted by the Supreme Court of California (albeit recently).

Stripping people of constitutional protections and measures affording equality and fairness for all is a grave and serious step to take.

I am not sure what happens if it passes, given there are now tens of thousands of same sex couples who have married. Maybe it all becomes null and void, but the equal protection clause of the California Constitution is still operative as is the Supreme Court's analysis of sexual orientation as being a suspect or quasi suspect category (in like manner as the Supreme Court of Connecticut which has also recently provided for gender neutrality) given the overwhelming animus toward LGBT people over recent US history and difficulty in gaining equality using the usual political channels - a point that is rather reinforced if Prop 8 passes.

Maybe California will adopt a UK style Civil Partnership provision.

This all remains to be seen.

Again, were it to pass, the only way for civil marriage to be afforded with full equality is for a future amendment to the Constitution. And while it may be several years before such an amendment to be carried it is worth campaigning for, even though the LGBT community be heavily outspent by religious bodies.

Although to date the campaign against Prop 8 looks weak and dire (and is being heavily criticised though it may be they have a game plan for the final 2 weeks) a lot of the work is already being done in trade unions, newspaper editorials and supportive churches.

This work will no doubt continue as well, perhaps, some telling questions of the Democratic hierarchy who haven't come out too visibly against the amendment (at all in fact - maybe they are biding their time). There may well be a broader day of reckoning for this who offer warm words and sympathy when they ought to know better.