The big LGBT political story this week was the Supreme Court decision that said a college cannot refuse access to military recruiters by claiming the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy conflicts with the school’s antidiscrimination rules. Enough’s been said about the inherent unfairness of DADT that I won’t belabor the point here, except to note a comparison with the UK, our friend and ally in many matters military. Last weekend Lieutenant Commander Jim Phillips of the Royal Navy celebrated a civil partnership aboard the HMS Warrior, a nineteenth-century battleship. Should he so desire, Royal Navy regulations (and those of all HM Armed Forces) permit him to apply for married quarters this autumn.
In general, the UK a big step ahead of the U. S. in LGBT rights and acceptance. Beyond the military world, several UK government ministers will be celebrating civil partnerships soon. This weekend, Member of the European Parliament Michael Cashman will be having a ceremony with his partner. Rumored guests include Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s heir apparent, and Cherie Blair, the Prime Minister’s wife. In June, Member of Parliament Ben Bradshaw will also have a ceremony. Scottish MP Margaret Smith announced her upcoming partnership at the end of February.
Still, as I’ve explained before, a civil partnership is still not the same as a marriage. It reduces journalists to using quotation marks in silly places ("Minister announces gay ‘wedding’") and still has the feel of a second-class category. This is not to disparage those who are publicly taking the steps they can to celebrate their relationships and secure their rights as couples. Someday maybe your civil partnerships will simply be called marriages, full stop.