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British PM Gordon Brown Calls Proposition 8 'Unacceptable'

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke to a group of gay and lesbian leaders assembled at Downing Street in London at a reception for LGBT History Month and referenced California's Proposition 8 battle as a reason to be wary and battle discrimination at all costs:

Obama_brown "I was in America yesterday and I know you will be sorry I didn't bring Barack Obama back. He is coming soon. But what I saw in America told me what we have to do. This Proposition 8, this attempt to undo the good that has been done. This attempt to create divorces among 18,000 people who were perfectly legally brought together in partnerships, this is unacceptable and shows me why we always have to be vigilant, why we have always got to fight homophobic behaviour and any form of discrimination."

It was the first such reception held at 10 Downing Street according to gay activists: "The Prime Minister spoke passionately about the fight for LGBT rights and paid tribute to the work of Schools Out. Harriet Harman, a long standing supporter of the LGBT community, said it was the best reception she had ever been to. Amy Lamé was celebrating her hen night, as she will be having her Civil Partnership ceremony tomorrow. Other guests included LGBT politicians, civil servants, campaigners, entertainers, teachers and clergy."

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  1. Gordon Brown is officially my hero. Perhaps our country needs a Prime Minister in charge.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Mar 6, 2009 1:07:56 PM

  2. without equivocation! shocking.

    Posted by: doug | Mar 6, 2009 1:13:46 PM

  3. I'd sure as hell vote for him. At least he isn't afraid to state his position against the bigots.

    Posted by: Marc | Mar 6, 2009 1:15:25 PM

  4. Is the "Tips" function not working? I have been trying to submit a really pressing story in KY about an anti-gay adoption bill and I haven't had any luck.

    Posted by: Keith | Mar 6, 2009 1:18:35 PM

  5. Yeah, pretty much every civilized country in the world gets it except the U.S. The irony being, even compared to countries with higher religiosity (Spain and Canada with huge Catholic populations), the U.S. lies -- it has NEVER separated Church & State.

    Posted by: Strepsi | Mar 6, 2009 1:19:44 PM

  6. That's nice news and hopefully we will win at the ballot box in 2010 - but after yesterdays repeated pronouncement of "Hey, you get to keep everything except the word MARRIAGE, be grateful for what you got" - I think we have a major uphill battle. Once the Supremes rule that Prop 8 stays, I would expect and all out assault on all the other state legislators to put Protect Marriage language into the remaining state constitutions. CA proved that if it isn't in the constitution Judges can pass it, but once it's in there, game over. We're toast - at least for the next 10 years.

    Posted by: Mike | Mar 6, 2009 1:24:20 PM

  7. I'm certainly surprised, since as a Brit I have never associated Gordon Brown as an especially LGBT-friendly politician... but then I cannot recall ever hearing a single thing on his stance one way or the other.

    A very pleasant surprise then. : )

    Posted by: PM | Mar 6, 2009 1:27:06 PM

  8. Gordon Brown, a hero?

    Nice of him to criticize prop 8 and all, but how about marriage rights in the UK? Oh yeah, we get second-class status as "civil partners". Great.

    Gordon Brown is clown -- always quick to criticize the US, but never thinks twice about his own actions.

    Any Americans want him as their Prime Minister? Please come take him. He wasn't elected here anyways.

    Posted by: DaveB | Mar 6, 2009 1:29:02 PM

  9. i think it's just adorable that president obama & prime minister brown are dressed the same in that photo.

    Posted by: alguien | Mar 6, 2009 1:31:28 PM

  10. the last time i checked gay marriage was NOT legal in britain either.

    Posted by: johnosahon | Mar 6, 2009 1:38:07 PM

  11. WTF? Great Britain doesn't have marriage equality everywhere. The position that Proposition 8 reduced us to -- civil unions -- is the best their entire country will offer to any gay person.

    You oppose Prop 8, Brown? Show me the money: fight for marriage equality in your own country.

    Posted by: Pender | Mar 6, 2009 1:45:57 PM

  12. Alguien, you took the words right out of my mouth. I'm surprised one of them didn't switch ties.

    Gordon Brown is great in some areas (foreign aid) but seems a bit overwhelmed as prime minister.

    Posted by: Paul R | Mar 6, 2009 1:53:23 PM

  13. did you photoshop that picture yourself or did it come from some other source?

    Posted by: nickbilz | Mar 6, 2009 1:55:09 PM

  14. I appreciate Brown's comments, though it's worth pointing out that gay marriage isn't legal in the UK either. They have legal civil domestic partnerships, which, while progress, can be fairly described (as one poster on put it) as a form of separate but equal.

    Nonetheless I agree with the poster above who said that everyone/where else seems to "get it" on this issue. Even the Aussies are drifting away from their total ban on recognition of gay families.

    Posted by: Clay | Mar 6, 2009 2:20:34 PM

  15. Strepsi - Canada does not have a higher religiosity than the US. If you based that fact on any supportive evidence, it's wrong. French-Canadians may identify as Roman Catholic but they are by far one of the most liberal provinces in the country. Haven't you heard the expression "Sacre Blue"? It's a direct offense to the Catholic church. The fact that marriage was passed so easily in Canada is directly due to the fact that we are not remotely as religious as America.

    Posted by: D.R.H. | Mar 6, 2009 3:22:08 PM

  16. Well, I wouldn't characterize the fight over same-sex marriage in either Canada or Spain as "easy."

    - In Spain, Prime Minister Zapatero's socialist government faced enormously pressure from the Pope. The conservative opposition also organized rallies against gays that attracted over a million people. In fact, the right-wing managed to scrap together enough votes in the Senate to kill the legislation in 2004.

    But Zapatero vowed to introduce the bill again in 2005. This time it passed through the Commons first. But it was again vetoed by the Senate. Zapatero then forced same-sex marriage through using a provision in the Spanish Constitution similar to the "Parliament Act" (which allows the lower house to overrule the upper house). The Church then petitioned King Juan Carlos to refuse Royal Assent on the grounds that same-sex marriage is "unconstitutional" (as Catholicism is the state religion). However, the King rejected their pleas and signed the bill into law. The Church and their conservative allies then went to court with the same claims. But their appeals ultimately failed.

    - In Canada, marriage equality was first achieved at the provincial level in 2003. A series of court cases in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec all came to the same conclusion within a few months of each other. However, the federal government appealed all three decisions to the provincial supreme courts.

    After the provincial supreme courts essentially affirmed the lower court rulings, the federal government (Liberals) under Jean Chretien switched sides somewhat and said they'd now ask the federal Supreme Court for direction on how to proceed. The high court essentially declined to overrule the lower courts. But said it was upto Parliament to decide whether to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide or simply leave it alone. By the time they got to this point, it was 2005 and the unpopular Paul Martin was Prime Minister.

    Martin decided to introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. The legislation was passed and received royal assent. However, Martin and the Liberals were soon voted out of office. The Conservative candidate, Stephen Harper, had pledge to "re-open" the same-sex marriage issue on the campaign trail. And once he became Prime Minister, that's precisely what he did (2007). However, a test vote in the Commons proved highly embarassing (175-123 against changing the status-quo). So, Harper dropped the marriage ban and has never mentioned gays again,

    Posted by: John in CA | Mar 6, 2009 4:22:29 PM

  17. Thanks for the play-by-play John but I was there. Perhaps "easy" was a little overstated. Relatively speaking, comparing our process to America's, I'm saying it was easy. A few years from start to finish in Canada, without, really, the people's involvement at all. How long would you say the US has to go? Five years? Ten? was easier.

    Posted by: D.R.H. | Mar 7, 2009 9:06:18 AM

  18. As others have pointed out, it's ironic that Brown is saying that Prop 8 is "unacceptable" when the UK doesn't have full civil marriage equality either. I guess he gets points for speaking out against discrimination even if his hands aren't entirely clean.

    Re: Canada. Easy, no, but I agree with D.R.H. The fact that Canada, as a country, wrapped up the marriage issue in a few years with nowhere near the level of religious interference as you would find in the States says something about the cultural environment. It became political disadvantageous for conservative Harper to re-open same-sex marriage because Canada lacks the right wing zealotry base that feeds the conservatives in the States. Now it's a non-issue. If only that were the case in the States.

    Posted by: Ernie | Mar 7, 2009 11:01:02 AM

  19. The Catholic Church has not had any real political power in Quebec since the Quiet Revolution in the 60s. Before that, it was a force (and churches were fuller, too). Now it's irrelevant, and churches are empty and Quebec is the most socially liberal province.

    We need such a revolution in the States!

    It certainly is hypocritical of Brown to talk about Prop 8, though. How is DP's different from what the Brit's have? Only difference is that Britain's a country, not a state. The principle's the same.

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Mar 7, 2009 11:04:43 AM

  20. Gordon Brown is a walking disaster area. That the idiot should declare Prop8 'unacceptable' while the legal position is almost exactly the same in the UK - separate but equal - amply demonstrates his desire to wield power, not to lead.

    Also, watch for him whining on about how none of the econopalypse is anything to do with him, it is a "global problem that just seemed to fall out of the sky". Let's just conveniently forget that London's determination to race New York to the bottom in terms of who could have the most lax and ineffective regulation in finacial markets, hell, nothing to do with the architect of the UK's entire regulatory framework.

    Gordon Brown is a control freak, a numpty, a danger to British democracy. Obama: keep your distance!

    Posted by: Graham Anderson | Mar 7, 2009 7:54:21 PM

  21. Gordon Brown, like many British liberals, is being completely disingenuous on this issue. His Labor Party introduced gay civil unions, not gay marriage. Therefore, there is no comparison between Britain and California. Britain pretended to be open-minded by introducing gay civil unions when in fact it was shutting off the gay marriage option.

    Therefore,my message to Brown and his fellow phony Brits is this: stop bullshitting your way through this. You know full well that gay marriage is NOT allowed in Great Britain and that you are mainly responsible for this.

    Posted by: alan | Mar 8, 2009 8:28:11 AM

  22. What is wrong with these "United" States?
    All these divorces or annulments being foisted upon people who just want to be in union with the person that they love. Why not go back to preventing Negros from marrying white people or bring back anti semitisim. Allowing things like Proposition 8 is not helping this country. It just sends us backwards. United States indeed!

    Posted by: Robert Alan | Mar 8, 2009 4:56:14 PM

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