Thursday, February 7, 2013


As I've followed the struggle for marriage equality for LGTB persons, I see many similarities with the Civil Rights movement for equality for African-Americans here in the United States, which is not at all surprising as the fight for justice for any oppressed group will have parallels with the struggles of other groups.  Here in the US, the movement toward same-sex marriage equality is now state by state.  Gay marriage is legal in nine states: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont,  Washington, and the District of Columbia, with Illinois likely to follow soon.

Thanks to Colin Coward's real-time Facebook reports, I followed the debate in Britain's House of Commons on the bill to allow same-sex civil marriage in Britain preceding the overwhelming vote in favor.  The established Church of England's opposition to the bill, including a statement by the new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is a puzzlement, but I've addressed the matter briefly elsewhere.

Thanks to Kelvin Holdsworth for the link to quotes and a video of one of the most eloquent speeches in favor of the bill by MP David Lammy from Tottenham.

Separate is not equal. 

But there are still those that say that this is all unnecessary.

“Why do we need Gay Marriage when we already have Civil Partnerships”, they say.

“They are the same - separate but equal”, they claim.

Let me speak frankly.

“Separate but equal” is a fraud.

 “Separate but equal” is the language that tried to push Rosa Parks to the back of the bus.

“Separate but equal” is the motif that determined that black and white could not possibly drink from the same water fountain, eat at the same table or use the same toilets.

 “Separate but equal” are the words that justified sending black children to different schools from their white peers – schools that would fail them and condemn them to a life of poverty.

It is an excerpt from the phrasebook of the segregationists and the racists.

It is the same statement, the same ideas and the same delusion that we borrowed in this country to say that women could vote – but not until they were 30.

It is the same naivety that gave made my dad a citizen in 1956 but refused to condemn the landlords that proclaimed “no blacks, no Irish, no dogs”.

It entrenched who we were, who our friends could be and what our lives could become.

This was not “Separate but equal” but “Separate AND discriminated”,

 “Separate AND oppressed”.

 “Separate AND browbeaten”.

 “Separate AND subjugated”.

Separate is NOT equal, so let us be rid of it.

Because as long as there is one rule for us and another for them, we allow the barriers to acceptance to stand unchallenged.
Brilliant, heartfelt, and quite moving. 

Here is the link to the entire original speech that David Lammy intended to give but for the four-minute limit on backbench speeches.

UPDATE: France seems to have crossed a major hurdle in its progress toward the approval same-sex marriages. 


JCF said...


Grandmère Mimi said...

Very impressive. I read the words again, and again I was quite moved.

Erp said...

BTW he is apparently a church going Anglican and sang in a cathedral choir as a child (and attended the associated school on a scholarship). He is also the son of single mum from a poor area of London.