Marriage equality – what’s that, then?

I was once told by an immature teenager that my gloves were gay. It wasn’t even my rainbow gloves, which i’d have to admit, yeah, they’re pretty gay!

Even my purple gloves, i’d concede that the kid had a point. No, it was my white and black striped gloves; they’re not even gaily coloured!

“Your gloves are GAY!”

So i said, “Oh really? Do you think they are attracted to other gloves of the same gender?”

To me the term “gay marriage” is as ridiculous a concept as “gay gloves”. Marriage doesn’t have a sexuality. And if you’re trying to say it’s for gay people, no it’s not. It affects bi, trans and straight people too, in all kinds of combinations. What we’re really looking for is an equality of marriage: the same opportunities available to everyone.

Some examples:

1. Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle have been trying for nearly two years to get a civil partnership, because they don’t want the historical baggage associated with marriage. They have been denied because of their sexuality: they are both straight.

2. A friend of mine changed gender and had to get divorced and form a civil partnership instead, in order to achieve gender recognition.

3. I am bisexual and married to a man. Do we have a straight marriage? If i had wanted to marry a woman, would it be a gay marriage? No, because i am not gay.

4. Gay people can get married right now! There’s nothing to stop a gay man marrying a gay woman. You might be surprised how often that happens, just for the convenience.

It bothers me whenever i see the term “gay marriage”. This morning i saw journalists Emma Kennedy and Victoria Coren both use it, so i tweeted:

your periodic reminder that “marriage equality” is preferable to “gay marriage” .. thank you!

Emma agreed with me, but claimed that on twitter, “gay marriage” is more convenient, to avoid getting hundreds of tweets asking what “marriage equality” means. I didn’t realise that there was so much ignorance. It can’t be that hard to explain, surely? I think that if more journalists and politicians would start using the terms “equal marriage” or “marriage equality” then people would get used to it and understand what it means.

If we can’t go that far, “same-sex marriage” is at least slightly preferable to “gay marriage” because it’s more descriptive, and it doesn’t exclude bisexual people. It highlights the thing that is currently unequal about marriage. I still don’t like it because it implies that we’re talking about a different, separate thing, when what we actually want is equal access to the same thing.

One friend suggested that we should call it “Marry Who The Fuck You Want” .. people should be able to grasp that concept! Another friend recommends that we do away with marriage altogether, then we’d have equality of non-marriage!

It seems that the terminology of this thing is becoming my big bisexual soapbox of 2012, haha! And yes .. i know .. soapboxes do not have a sexuality. Well done if you spotted my irony there! ;)

Relatedly, for anyone who is trying to preserve the “sanctity of marriage”, the whole “one man, one woman” thing, remember that marriage is a human invention, and is always changing. I loved this poster that i saw the other day.


Why i’m voting YES to AV

This time last year i got an MP who i didn’t vote for. An MP that more than half of Winchester did not vote for. I was very upset at the result across the country: the number of MPs was thoroughly disproportionate to the number of votes cast. Here’s a reminder:

UK General Election 2010

I went on a march in Trafalgar Square, i got a tshirt for Unlock Democracy, i led a debate on why First Past The Post is an undemocratic system (and won the debate!), i blogged and tweeted, and i talked to lots of people about how the system could be better.

In my opinion, the Alternative Vote, while not perfect, is certainly a vast improvement on FPTP. With AV, in Winchester last year, we could have found out the second preference of the people who voted for the smaller parties. It’s possible they may have supported the winning candidate, pushing the support up past 50%. Or they may have preferred the runner-up. But we would know that the winner under AV had support from at least half of the constituency.

I just voted #Yes2AV! on Twitpic

So … tomorrow is our chance. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a significant difference. I have absolutely no idea how the referendum will turn out, but i want to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to vote, to do so. When do we ever get to help make a big decision like this?! I find it awesome to think that – hey – it’s up to us! For once, we’re not going to have the decision made for us by politicians.

I’m voting yes because i want a fairer voting system. I want an end to tactical voting. I want to know that my MP has a majority support. I want to be able to vote honestly. I want to help establish a better democracy for generations to come.

To be clear: A vote yes to AV is not a vote for Nick Clegg. A vote no to AV is not a vote for David Cameron. This is simply a vote on whether we want to fix the flawed voting system that produces results that don’t represent us.

On not wearing a poppy

In recent years i have struggled with an internal conflict over whether or not to wear a poppy around Armistice Day. It is hard for me to feel anything but deep sorrow that war happens at all. It seems to me that the wearing of poppies may have become somewhat misconstrued. There seems to be less grieving and more … it almost feels like celebration … at least there is some kind of honour and heroism that goes along with it, and i find that impossible to associate with.

I know that war in the past has been necessary. I know that people were killed and injured and suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in order to give us the freedoms that we enjoy today. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, and i am grateful for what these people have done, and continue to do.

Yet my far stronger emotion is a powerful dislike of war that makes me want to distance myself from it. A red poppy to me speaks too strongly of violence and bloodshed. Everything within me longs for a peaceful alternative to the horror of war. I wish there was another way: i desperately desire peace and harmony, equality and freedom for all. I understand that these may be naive desires, and i certainly don’t understand everything about the history of wars and all the reasons for wars that are happening at the moment. Still, this is how i feel.

For me there are no heroes of war, only victims.

Feel free to try and change my mind. I’m still conflicted about this and i am aware that i could be wrong. At the moment, i’m choosing to pay my respects inwardly, as i feel the outward expression may be misinterpreted for something i don’t want it to be. So, for now at least, i’m choosing not to wear a poppy.

UK Voting referendum already under threat

Today, Nick Clegg has set the date for the UK voting referendum, giving us a chance to reform the badly flawed voting system.

If you’re not convinced that the system is unfair, compare these charts: How we voted in the 2010 election vs what we got.

UK General Election 2010

Unfortunately some backbench Conservative MPs are trying to propose a 40% threshold, meaning that at least 40% of all registered voters would need to support the reform. This is totally unrealistic and unprecedented: it’s not the way we elect MPs, in fact only 35 out of our 650 MPs got support from 40% of their electorate.

Their fear is understandable: under a fairer voting system the Conservative party would probably not get an overall majority. But it is not right to use an unfair voting system to save another very unfair voting system.

The most important thing right now is to urge your MP not to support the threshold and to give the referendum a fair chance. You can do so here:

Follow the instructions to write a letter to your MP. A suggested letter will be provided for you; all you need to do is add in your MP’s name (the site will tell you) and sign it with your name. If you personalise the letter more, so much the better.

For reference, here’s the letter i wrote to my MP for Winchester, Steve Brine.

Dear Steve,

My first opportunity to write to you! :) This is about the Alternative Vote system referendum.

I really welcome a fairer system than the one we have currently. I led a debate at The Roebuck Inn recently proposing that First Past The Post is undemocratic. I did not vote for you, and my vote was discarded. It bothers me that 28,800 votes in Winchester counted for nothing. I won the debate, by the way!

Now that we have a real chance to get a fairer system I’m concerned that some backbench Conservative MPs are already trying to fight against it by trying to argue for a 40% threshold rule — that’s 40% support from all available voters, even those who choose not to vote.

This doesn’t sound at all fair to me, and sounds like a sign of fear. By the way, Steve, you only got 36.79% of the total available electorate in Winchester, so you should be able to see why this proposal doesn’t make sense!

You may not be the representative i voted for, but you are now my representative in Parliament, and therefore i hope i can count on you to oppose this suggestion and give the referendum a fair chance.

Yours sincerely,

aimee daniells
twitter: @sermoa

After one afternoon already 1,873 letters have been sent to 548 of our MPs. It is important that we get the message to all 650 MPs, so please do your bit and support true democracy.

See also:

"It All Comes Tumbling Down" lyrics

Oh, wow, Right Said Fred, great song you made here – an election anthem for the Lib Dems! I love the lyrics and the tune is so catchy!

Watch the video here: “It All Comes Tumbling Down” by Right Said Fred

Here are the lyrics:

Does Brown look elected to you?
He was just next in the queue.
Give us a shot, cos we’re sick of this lot!
Does Brown look elected to you?

Are you all tired of the norm?
Well now is the time for reform
There’s nothing strange about fairness and change
It’s just that you’ve never had it before

It’s been a party of two, well change is long overdue
And now it all comes tumbling down
Vinny and Nick – you know they won’t miss a trick
Because they’re clean and sound as a pound

It’s been a party of two, just the reds and the blues
But now it all comes tumbling down
Cameron, Brown, take a look at them now
We’re gonna run those cats out of town!

So gird up your loins and prepare
There’s an almighty change in the air
Just put a cross in the bright yellow box
There ain’t nothing else to compare

It’s been a party of two, well change is long overdue
And now it all comes tumbling down
Vinny and Nick – you know they won’t miss a trick
They’re clean and sound as a pound

It’s been a party of two, well change is long overdue
And they won’t leave you with a bill
We’re the Lib Dems – we’re your family of friends
We can and you know we will!

It’s been a party of two, just the reds and the blues
Now it all comes tumbling down
Cameron and Brown, take a look at them now
We’re gonna run those cats out of town!

I love it so much!

We’re the Lib Dems – we’re your family of friends! So totally awesome! :D