Thursday, 22 December 2011

A Legal Year in Review

With the festive season upon us, and the year coming to a close it is perhaps inevitable to look back on the last twelve months. The big story has been partnership rights and marriage rights as the Coalition Government looked to focus the social policy agenda on 'families' in the wake of austerity at home, a global economic crisis and riots on the streets. The UK took steps towards same-sex marriage and this time next year it should be on the statute book. We'll then know what that means for civil partnerships and the ongoing legal action from the Equal Love Campaign. As I argued in the Huffington Post earlier in the year, this shift is in line with conservative thinking and presents some interesting questions for conservatives in the States. Yesterday saw the sixth anniversary for civil partnerships but we still don't know if those who are in civil partnerships today, will be this time next year and whether other people will have access to those rights. More than 46,000 civil partnerships have been held since the December 2005, with 18,049 of those taking place in the first year. How this area pans out in English law will be a key issue of law and sexuality in 2012.

In the US, as Obama sinks in opinions polls -and looks to an election in 2012 that he looks set to win not because of his skills at governing but because the GOP candidates look unelectable, his law and sexuality policy win has been the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Although signed this time last year, it's now been in force and is changing lives. NBC's Nightly News included a great feature last night on life in the armed forces post DADT. I've pasted it in below. The long term implications of the repeal will be to contribute to a cultural change in America enabling further progressive measures to pass. The problematic question for Obama is 'what now?' as US lobbying groups inevitably sharpen their political knives over the issue of same-sex marriage and the Perry case continues to progress (with the reassuringly legal pace of a snail) through the US courts.


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