British Prime Minister Weighs in on Prop 8

Timothy Kincaid

March 6th, 2009

California’s Proposition 8 has become an event greater than itself. No longer a vote on whether same-sex couples can call their relationship “marriage”, Prop 8 has become a symbol, a rallying cry, an event that transcends its happening. Protests over its passage have not been limited to the state’s borders, or even the nation’s.

A further evidence that this ban is representative of the global fight over equality for gay people came this week in London (BBC) from Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Speaking about Proposition 8 in California,

Mr Brown said “this attempt to undo good that has been done is unacceptable”.

He added: “This shows why we have always got to be vigilant, always got to fight homophobic behaviour and any form of discrimination.”

Those inclined to irony might note that same-sex marriage is not legal in England, either. However, over there the amost-marriage-but-by-some-other-name has federal recognition and in California it does not.


March 6th, 2009

It’s also worth pointing out that while same-sex marriage isn’t legal in Britain, it’s not banned, either.

Also, not to nitpick, you should say that civil unions there have national, not federal recognition, as the UK is a unitary state, not a federal state.


March 6th, 2009

WOW! That’s awesome! The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom tells the world that California’s Proposition 8 is a bad idea!!!


Wish he could have made this comment BEFORE the election!!!


March 6th, 2009

In reply to AJD

Given that Britain has an ‘unwritten constitution’ I am not sure how same-sex marriage could be banned beyond simply not being legal.

Since devolution to different degrees to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from the U.K. as a whole, I am not sure whether the UK should be regarded as a federal state or not. Muddying the waters still further England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each have their own separate legal system, there is no equivalent of the US Federal courts.


March 6th, 2009

I think Mr. Brown would be best served by minding his own business.

As the head of government for the United Kingdom he is naturally concerned with the foreign policy of the United States. How this leads to an interest in the proper application of the Constitution of California is rather inexplicable.

It should be noted that since the UK has no written constitution, no British politician has any experience in dealing with applying one governmental policy. Parliament in the UK rules in the name of the monarch; no court can rule that any act of parliament is unconstitutional.

The whole controversy in California started with a dispute over the correctness of court ruling on the constitutionality of California’s laws on marriage. Mr. Brown is very much out of his depth when he comments on this affair.


March 7th, 2009

In reply to Dave

There are two ways to read Mr Browns comments (as far as I can tell from the quotes I have seen). First as you say direct criticism of what has happened in California, the second is, roughly, that what has happened in California is terrible and we mustn’t let it happen here. I suspect that his meaning was the latter. Although there is no way that a there could be a majority vote of the UK electorate that removed any gay rights, I suspect that Mr Brown was trying to vaguely suggest that some gay rights they might be removed if a Conservative government were elected. (IMO it is very doubtful that a Conservative government would try to roll-back existing gay rights although there may well be little forward progress.)

Parliament does NOT rule in the name of the Monarch. The English Civil War clearly established Parliament as a separate institution from the Monarchy. Mr Brown leads Her Majesty’s Government but Parliament does not belong to Her Majesty.


March 7th, 2009


I’m afraid I cannot accept your interpretation of the prime minister’s words. He said, “this attempt to undo good that has been done is unacceptable.” By “this attempt” he clearly meant California Proposition 8.

As for my statement about the parliament ruling in the name of the monarch, I didn’t intend to imply that the monarch owned Parliament. I meant the monarch’s sovereignty is in Parliament.


March 7th, 2009

He’s on our team. I welcome Prime Minster Brown’s support.

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