President Obama Boosts Global Trend To Gay Marriage
It is significant that Obama's change of heart was prompted by discussions with his family and friends, including gay White House staffers and gay parents at his daughters' school.
President Obama has joined the British Prime Minister and the new French President in backing same-sex marriage.
It's an unstoppable global trend, with more and more countries planning to end the ban on gay couples getting married. There is growing momentum for same-sex marriage in many countries, from Cuba to Nepal, Denmark, Australia and Columbia.
Mr Tatchell is the national coordinator of the UK's Equal Love campaign, which seeks to overturn the twin legal bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships.
Obama's support will boost the worldwide campaign for marriage equality and, through media reporting of his support, raise awareness of gay marriage among billions of people in every corner of the earth.
It is significant that Obama's change of heart was prompted by discussions with his family and friends, including gay White House staffers and gay parents at his daughters' school. He was also influenced by the sacrifices of US lesbian and gay military personnel. This is further evidence that people who have gay friends are more likely to support gay equality.
Same-sex couples are already allowed to marry in Canada, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Iceland and South Africa; plus several states in the US, Mexico and Brazil.
The British campaign for marriage equality involves a twin-track strategy, both political and legal. â€¨â€¨The Equal Love campaign has filed a legal case in the European Court of Human Rights by four gay couples and four straight couples, in a bid to overturn Britain's twin bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships.
We want full equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law. â€¨â€¨Gay marriage is all about love. The love of same-sex couples is just as real, strong and committed as that of married heterosexual men and women. Prohibiting same-sex marriage devalues and denigrates the love of lesbian and gay couples. It signifies our continuing second class legal status.â€¨â€¨
Barring same-sex couples from civil marriages and opposite-sex couples from civil partnerships is as offensive as barring black or Jewish couples. It's a form of sexual apartheid to have separate laws for gay and straight people.â€¨â€¨In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law.
The Equal Love campaign wants civil marriages and civil partnerships open to gay and heterosexual couples, without any discrimination based on sexual orientation.â€¨â€¨British public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of same-sex marriage. A Populus poll in March 2012 found that 65% of the public agreed: "Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships."
Only 27% disagreed. This represents a steady increase in public support for marriage equality and a decline in public opposition.â€¨
â€¨Peter Tatchell is Director of U.K.-based the Peter Tatchell Foundation
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