Monday, September 20, 2010

Peter Tatchell:
Stonewall UK Opposes Gay Marriage

(Mr. Summerskill, right, with Mr. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the UK. Photo credit: Piers Allardyce.)

After getting some push-back against my post on Gay Inc remaining silent while the Russian police detained, interrogated and possibly drugged the country's leading gay advocate Nikolai Alexseev last week, I received a mass email from international gay campaigner Peter Tatchell in London, on a matter directly unrelated to that post.

Thematically, his note was a reminder of just how much of a hindrance professional gay advocacy orgs can be regardless if they're in the USA or the UK, Peter brings attention to some craziness on the part of the Stonewall org, the counterpart to our Human Rights Campaign.

Peter writes:

Britain's leading gay equality lobby group, Stonewall, is now actively undermining the campaign for marriage equality.

While many straight politicians support same-sex civil marriage, the head of Stonewall, Ben Summerskill, is refusing to campaign against the homophobic ban on LGBT couples getting married. Among other excuses, he says it will cost £5 billion to implement.

This is staggering! A gay equality organisation opposing equal rights legislation because it might cost too much. Unbelievable!

Where does Ben Summerskill get this £5 billion figure from anyway? If civil marriage and civil partnerships are the same, as Stonewall always claim, how could marriage equality cost more?

Included in Peter's note was the full article from the Pink News article today, detailing Summerskill's opposition to gay marriage. Here are excerpts:

The chief executive of LGB lobby group Stonewall, Ben Summerskill, this evening told a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrats party conference that the group is not actively campaigning for marriage equality because it would cost a staggering £5 billion to implement. The charity have been stonewalling questions on its exact position on marriage equality for some time.

Zoe O'Connell, who writes the Complicity blog, described the meeting: "Of all the bizarre places to come out against marriage equality, an event run in conjunction with DELGA, the Liberal Democrat LGBT organisation, would seem to be the most odd. But that’s just what Ben Summerskill, head of so-called 'equality' organisation Stonewall did today." [...]

Why worry about any enemies outside the community when leading, well-funded, supposedly politically-savvy Gay Inc groups everywhere are woefully out of touch with the needs and desires of ordinary gay people?

Forceful and effective advocacy. Respectful community engagement. Genuine fiscal and political transparency and accountability. Leaders with backbone. All these, and so many other factors I don't associate with Gay Inc.

And for my critics who kvetch about my complaints against professional gay advocacy groups are like a broken record, lemme say a few things. My constant demands for forceful leadership and action are not a detriment. There should be more of us demanding better representation and lobbying from Gay Inc.

The real problems are the lack of federal changes in the USA that would protect us from myriad discrimination policies, international orgs that remain isolated on the conference circuit and fail to do community organizing, and Stonewall's leader opposing gay marriage because of a statistic he has not verified.

How many years more must gays around the globe tolerate lame and dangerous Gay Inc stewardship of our agenda?

No comments: