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Conservative British MP Alan Duncan to Enter into Civil Partnership

Alan Duncan, the shadow business secretary, is the first Tory MP to enter into a civil partnership, the Telegraph reports:

Duncan"Mr Duncan (right) and his partner James Dunseath, 39, a press officer in the City, will hold the ceremony at Marylebone registry office in the summer. [Conservative party leader David] Cameron, who has not been to a civil partnership ceremony, is hoping to attend. They have announced their 'commitment' to the partnership in the Court & Social page of today's Daily Telegraph. Mr Duncan popped the question to Mr Dunseath on holiday in Oman on Valentine's Day. Mr Duncan said: 'James joked that if I had not asked him on Valentine's Day he would have asked me on Feb 29.' Mr Duncan and Mr Dunseath, who works at the Liffe, the financial futures exchange in the City, met at a dinner given by mutual friends 14 months ago. Both of their families, who are steeped in the military tradition, have given their blessing to the civil partnership."

Duncan was also the first Tory MP to come out of the closet. Said Duncan: "I never ever imagined that one day I would be a beneficiary of the legislation. What James and I are entering into is not a marriage, it is a civil partnership. You could not find two more conventional people to enter into a civil partnership."

Tory MP Alan Duncan to enter civil partnership [telegraph]

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  1. I hope their Conservatives are different from the ones over here. Do they have religious fanatics in their Conservative Party? We got a bunch of 'em here.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Mar 4, 2008 10:17:11 AM


  2. Derrick, conservative party in the UK is more like the Democrats in the US. Everythng in Europe is several steps to the left of American politics. So conservatives there are WAY less extreme. And as for religion, if you bring that topic up in the EU, most people will think you are a nutter.

    Posted by: Diogenes | Mar 4, 2008 10:44:33 AM


  3. The Conservative Party are quite similar to the US version. These two men (good luck to them) will now enjoy legal rights granted under a Labour Government, rights that their own party opposed for decades.

    Indeed the Conservative Party were the authors of the notorious Clause 28, a controversial amendment to the United Kingdom's Local Government Act 1986, enacted on 24 May 1988 and repealed in 2003.

    The amendment stated that a local authority "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship."

    Pretend families? That sounds familiar, doesn't it?

    Posted by: FASTLAD | Mar 4, 2008 11:03:38 AM


  4. The UK Conservatives are much more like the GOP was before the Christian Right and Neocons became dominant. It's always contained a fuller spectrum of opinion on issues as controversial as Iraq, abortion, capital punishment, etc.

    It's quite true that, to their discredit, they were the authors of the (thankfully never invoked) Clause 28. It's also true that the initial bill to legalize homosexual relations in the 1960s was authored by a Conservative MP and supported by several others, incl. Thatcher.

    Alan Duncan, btw, isn't an obscure or marginalized figure in the party, but a member of the leadership team earmarked for Cabinet membership.

    Posted by: Clay | Mar 4, 2008 11:11:51 AM


  5. I send these men my heartfelt congratulations.

    I wonder why Duncan felt the need to make the statement that what they were entering into was NOT a MARRIAGE. I can understand if he was trying to make the point that they are still one step away from true parity and equality through marriage but that doesn't seem to be his point here. He seems to be making it clear that he doesn't feel that gay people should want, expect or be given the right to full marriage.

    An Anglican Bishop in England made the point a few days ago that people should stop referring to civil partnerships as "weddings" and "gay marriages" and "marriages" because they aren't marriages they are simply a legally recognized roommate status. I think he sums up EXACTLY why civil partnerships aren't really completely equal to marriage and why the UK has one more step to take before they have true equality for gay couples.

    I find it very offensive when I hear reports of these civil partnerships in the media accompanied by "not really" quotes around the words marriage and wedding.

    Having said all that, I appreciate the fact that the UK is LEAPS AND BOUNDS ahead of us on this matter. I just hope that British gays don't become complacent, comfortable and satisfied in their second-class status.

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 4, 2008 12:20:16 PM


  6. No, the GOP isn't the most right-wing of the world's conservative parties. Although it certainly shares company with some of the less savory characters on the international stage.

    The moderate conservative parties tend to come from Northern and Western Europe. It gets more like the U.S. as you move to the Eastern and Mediterrenean nations. In terms of the so-called "Anglo-Saxon" states (a bit of misnomer in today's multi-cultural societies), Australia and the U.S. are conservative compared to Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.

    Republican-like political parties include;

    The Australian Liberals

    The German Christian Social Union (a more regressive ally of the Christian Democrats, but they only control one state: Bavaria)

    Italy's openly racist Northern League and fascist National Alliance (allies of Berlusconi's Forza Italia)

    Poland's Law and Justice Party

    Spain's Partido Popular

    Greece's New Democracy

    Any of the (many) self-proclaimed "nationalist" parties in Russia are guaranteed to be racist, homophobic, and militant

    Posted by: John | Mar 4, 2008 12:38:22 PM


  7. Zeke,

    By the British government's own assessment, a civil partnership is the equilvalent of a civil union or registered domestic partnership. In fact, most EU countries - with the exception of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain - use the same "separate but equal" terminology that many U.S. states employ here.

    However, the European press (and the average person on the street) usually refers to them as "gay marriages" anyway. So, there's much less of a societal roadblock to the idea of same-sex unions. In New Jersey, a civil union is seen as just a civil union. That is, many businesses and individuals won't recognize it until they're forced to do so by the government. In contrast, nearly everyone in Sweden considers a registered partnership as pretty much a marriage in all but name. Same terminology, difference results.

    Though more conservative forces within these nations continue to insist on using any word except "marriage", it is the added baggage of extreme heterosexism that makes it more difficult for American states. American governments are forced to truly enforce same-sex unions. However, this is a poor solution because to truly give these couples the robust protections they theorethically have on paper, the society at-large has to go along with the scheme. Otherwise, you'll find yourself constantly fighting and filing lawsuits to assert your union, and that reinforces a sense of being second-class.

    Posted by: John | Mar 4, 2008 12:52:16 PM


  8. JOHN, I'm aware of all of that. I'm not sure what your point was as it pertained to my comment.

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 4, 2008 2:29:39 PM


  9. I don't like this whole "otherness" that comes from the separate but equal status. We are having to come up with all new terminologies for our relationships and committments so that we don't, god forbid, use any of the first-class terms.

    Another example of this "otherness" is made clear in this article where they say that the men have "made a 'commitment' (in quotes) to partnership" just so they make it perfectly clear that the gay's don't get the first class "engagement" that straight people do.

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 4, 2008 2:40:15 PM


  10. Tories are basically WASPY elites like you can see parodied on Monty Python. They tend to be clueless, having made no attempt to get anything out of their elite educations which privilege has provided them. Watch PM QandA time on C-Span for examples.

    Posted by: anon | Mar 4, 2008 4:57:24 PM


  11. My point is I think you're over-reacting just a tad when it comes to "second-class" status of civil partnerships. It's merely a matter of semantics / discourse for the sake of government bluster.

    The British people are largely ahead of the game here. And if you look at the societal reaction to Elton John and such, there's an overwhelming sense that it is basically what it is. Even Tory leader Daivd Cameron has slipped up and called these civil partnerships "getting married", so I fail to see what the outrage's all about.

    Maybe it's that Europeans aren't quite as ideologically rigid as Americans.

    Posted by: John | Mar 4, 2008 6:17:36 PM


  12. There is a religious right within the Conservative Party here - Ann Widdecombe being perhaps the most prominent member of this tendency. But, unlike in the U.S., the religious segment of right-wing opinion isn't dominant in the Conservative Party. Their leader, David Cameron, is pretty socially liberal; when he says he wants to go to the ceremony, he's probably not lying. (Not that I'd vouch for him on anything else.)

    Posted by: Ben | Mar 4, 2008 6:59:26 PM


  13. JOHN, if it doesn't matter and it's all the same thing then why call it something different? It doesn't make sense that you would say that the reason the UK opted for a separate institution for gay people, instead of just letting them take part in the existing one, is because they are less ideologically rigid as Americans. Do you not see the incongruity of that statement?

    THE reason that Parliament called it the Civil PARTNERSHIP Act and not marriage or even the Civil Union Act was because Civil Union sounded too much like the union was based on love, sex and spirituality instead of a legal business arrangement. Civil Partnership LITERALLY means "legal roommate status". That argument was made VERY clear when this bill was debated on the floor of the House of Commons and it was reiterated just this week by an Anglican Bishop in England. Anyone who acts as if Civil Partnership officially means anything more than “roommate with benefits” is deluding themselves.

    Regardless of whether or not someone "slips up" and calls them marriages or weddings or otherwise, the government, and Mr. Duncan and the Church of England has made it VERY clear that they are not meant to be confused with REAL marriages.

    You may think that the difference is negligible but I would suggest the fact that they went to such great pains to establish a SEPARATE status shows that the government DIDN'T think it was negligible and unimportant.

    And, by the way, I made it very clear that the UK is LEAPS AND BOUNDS ahead of the US in this regard. Go back and read my comment. I said EXACTLY that. What I said was that I hope the British people don't just settle with this "other" status and not take that final step to true equality.

    If you believe that Civil Partnerships are the same as Marriage, ask married people if they would trade their marriage for a civil partnership. Straight people ALWAYS think that partnerships are equal to marriage for gay people but they don't think they are equal to marriage for straight people. There's a good reason for that.

    I suspect that had you been in the South in the 1960's (as I was) you would have argued that black people in Montgomery Alabama should have been happy that they were allowed to ride the bus. After all they were on the same bus, going to the same stops, and getting the same service as the white passengers; what did it matter where they sat? The fact of the matter was, WHERE a person was allowed to sit on that bus DID matter; it mattered to the person's DIGNITY, to their sense of being a FULLY equal and respected member of their society/community and it mattered because of the message that it sent to the next generation about their dignity and equality within that society/community. Civil Partnerships got gay couples on the metaphorical bus but it relegated them to the back seat. That was a HUGE step in the right direction. I just don't want gay people to get so comfortable on the back seat that they fall asleep and never feel the need to ask for that final step to full equality. That's all.

    Again, I applaud the UK for taking this momentous step. Please don't act as if I don't.

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 4, 2008 10:04:08 PM


  14. Homosexuality is an unnatural perversion and will remain one. Society will one day wake up to the reality of hopelessness and degradation that it has allowed itself to fall into through homosexuality, abortion, the marginalisation of fathers, and the wilful breakdown of family life. So what will we legalise next after homosexuality? Fornication with consenting sheep? Baaaaaaa.

    Posted by: Watt Evernext | Jun 30, 2008 7:11:56 PM


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