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Tony Blair Did a Little Skip Upon Seeing Men Get Hitched

Tony Blair addressed the British gay rights group Stonewall yesterday at a dinner at the Dorchester hotel in London, and recalled the work he had done over the years as Prime Minister advancing gay rights in Britain.

BlairBlair told the crowd of the "pride" and "joy" he experienced upon seeing the first civil partnerships take place in the UK: "I was so struck by it, it was so alive, I remember actually seeing the pictures on television. It is not often that you sort of skip around in my job, I can assure you, But it really the fact that that the people were so happy and the fact that you felt just one major, major change had happened, of which everyone can feel really proud. And now I think we were just saying, was it 16,000 civil partnerships, and what is interesting now is that other countries in Europe are looking at this legislation, and it is very divisive still in Spain and Italy at the moment. But nonetheless it is happening...There are a whole load of different pieces of legislation, which I will not rehearse here, but what has happened is that the culture of the country has changed in a definable way as a result of it. And here is what I think is really interesting. The change in the culture and the civilising effect of it has gone far greater than the gay and lesbian community."

Blair also reminisced about a speech he gave in 1994 regarding an amendment on equality on the age of consent in the UK:

"They had come together to move an amendment on equality on the age of consent. The thing that really struck me, re-reading the speech this evening, was just how a whole lot of things that nowadays we would more or less take for granted.

I mean, you had to start literally with the very, very first principles. including arguments like: “how do you stop people being persuaded to be gay?”

And I was thinking that is an interesting idea.

I have got five really good arguments in favour of being gay. And I remember saying to the guy who was on the opposite side afterwards: "You know, I am not gay and I wouldn’t be persuaded by five really good arguments."

And he said to me: "No, no, of course not, of course not." And I said: "But maybe it is the same the other way round?" He had never thought of it like that at all obviously."

Blair's comments come just as the House of Lords voted to pass an Equality Act forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a measure that the Catholic Church has been up in arms about because, they said, the laws would require them to go against their religious beliefs in providing adoption services to same-sex couples.

Tony Blair's Gay Speech in Full [pink news]
Blair Proud of Gay Rights Record [bbc]

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Comments

  1. Also from Blair's speech:
    "One thing I think is very important for any country that is to succeed in the future you make the most of the talents and abilities of your people.
    If you allow discrimination to fester, that is a complete rejection of that modernizing and civilising notion."
    Wow, a politician who gets it. Can you imagine anything so enlightened coming out of our government?
    Homosexuality isn't going to hurt America, but the fundies who think that it will sure are.

    Posted by: Adam | Mar 23, 2007 11:11:56 AM


  2. I agree completely with Adam. I wonder if an American president will ever make a similar statement. I am so ashamed of the U.S. Maybe the fundamentalists will learn from Great Britain.

    Posted by: Norm | Mar 23, 2007 12:41:20 PM


  3. Isn't not learning one of the hallmarks of being a fundementalist? Why else would they cherry-pick the science they want to believe in or support? Electricity/computers/internet=good, evolution/genetic research=bad. I imagine most American god-botherers see us Brits as a nation of heathens who've fallen under the evil spell of the gay agenda.

    Posted by: John C | Mar 23, 2007 1:41:59 PM


  4. I loathe Tony Blair for his complicity in Shrub's stupid war in Iraq. Unfortunately, Blair's support of some measure of equality for GLBT citizens in Britain cannot undo the damage he's done to people in Iraq. I do wish, however, that an American president could see this issue from the same viewpoint as Blair claims he sees it.

    Posted by: peterparker | Mar 23, 2007 3:37:53 PM


  5. Yeah PeterParker,
    Tony's not my political ideal by any means esp. because of his cooperation with our Decider, but in this speech at least he gets something right.

    Posted by: Adam | Mar 23, 2007 4:29:31 PM


  6. I admire Blair for his help of the GLBT community. Hopefully seeing America's greatest ally step up and do what is right will help to soften the hearts and minds of some american legislatures. Granted this is kind of a reach but meh. I can't really blame Blair for helping Bush out in Iraq. Prior to the war the UK had experienced its share of terrorist attacks by radical Islam so i think that they can sympathize with us. also the US and UK are each others greatest investors. that and the long standing relationship that the two nations enjoyed in this modern post WWII era. Both nations kinda gotta back each other up in things its just the way that it goes.

    Posted by: Nick | Mar 23, 2007 5:13:51 PM


  7. To say that the Equality Act is giving Conservatives fits in England would be an understatement. I was on a British discussion board yesterday and man, they're throwing the dishes! It was so delicious to see their frustration and sense of helplessness manifest itself as desperation and anger. They got their comeuppance with the passage of the Equality Act. And believe me, it was fun rubbing their noses in it!

    Posted by: Robert In WeHo | Mar 23, 2007 5:18:14 PM


  8. This underlines the huge importance of the separation of church and state. Secularism is essential for the development of a mature liberal democracy. It is difficult to make the case against equal treatment on rational grounds; it is indefensible. Moral standards have to be based on fairness and equality not on cherry-pickings from the Bible, thank you. Hence the Catholics lost in their efforts to secure an opt-out of the Equality Act.

    I think Blair is right to be proud; the culture has changed. You know, people can see that civil unions do not "undermine" "traditional" marriage or values; on the contrary, they actually reinforce traditional values - family, responsibility, commitment, fidelity etc.

    Blair hasn't much else to be proud about though...

    Posted by: atheist | Mar 23, 2007 5:22:24 PM


  9. I don't know how many people know this about Tony Blair but he's an evangelical born again Christian. That's why he gets along so well with The Shrub. If Tony Blair represents a future possible ideal for what evangelical Christians could become if they chose to (with a great deal of effort), then there may be a glimmer of hope for Evangelical Christians yet, though I'm not going to be holding my breath...

    Posted by: Robert In WeHo | Mar 23, 2007 5:56:18 PM


  10. I don't think it would be accurate to describe him as evangelical or born again Robert, to be honest. He's more your old fashioned Church of England moderate (not unlike Maggie Thatcher and proabably many of the uk population). I dare say the 'special relationship' with the Shrubster owes as much to Blair's political expediency as it does to a shared belief in god.

    Posted by: atheist | Mar 23, 2007 6:43:31 PM


  11. >>Prior to the war the UK had experienced its share of terrorist attacks by radical Islam so i think that they can sympathize with us.

    Er.....what attacks and when? The 7/7 bombings in London occurred in 2005. Britain endured *30 years* of deadly IRA terrorism that killed hundreds of people on all sides. No one ever suggested we bomb the population of Northern Ireland into submission as a result. Don't tar us with your jingoism, please.

    Regarding Blair and gay rights, don't forget that his best friend, Peter Mandelson, is gay. How many (out) gay friends does Bush have?

    Posted by: John C | Mar 23, 2007 9:46:22 PM


  12. Tony Blair's religious position would be described more accurately as Anglo-Catholic. I am very impressed with the work he has done for equality in Great Britian and his views on gay issues - and most of all his complete seperation of church and state. His politic decision making over the years appears to have been in no way influenced by personal religious beliefs (which you couldn't really say about Bush).

    Posted by: Chris C | Mar 24, 2007 3:06:26 PM


  13. Blair's support for the war in Iraq was based on principle, sound or otherwise, and in no way reflects a lockstep position with Bush, with whom he is in major disagreement on many fundamental areas, from global warming (Blair's government just pushed throught the most far-reaching laws on greenhouse gases in the world), to third world aid, to social welfare (spending on national health service has been unprecedented under his government). Maybe under the next presidency the US will see such enlightened leadership.

    Posted by: Toby | Mar 26, 2007 6:19:04 PM


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