“The last piece of the puzzle”: legal LGBT forum reacts to equal marriage bill

InterLaw, the forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) networks in law firms, has reacted to todays’ debate and tonight’s vote in the House of Commons on the equal marriage bill.

MPs will vote on whether to allow same sex couples to marry rather than enter a civil partnership at 7pm tonight.

InterLaw founder and co-chair and CMS Cameron McKenna partner Daniel Winterfeldt said: “The bulk of the work legally has been done with civil partnerships, especially since the Civil Partnership Act replicated every law in marriage. But I do think it’s an important step and the last piece of the puzzle needed to end the issue.

“I think there is a stong argument to say that separate but equal is not equal and the fact that straight couples can’t have civil partnerships means you’re essentially relegating LGBT people to a separate area.”

Winterfeldt also called for religious groups to be respected. He said: “I think it’s always really important to respect religious groups and their beliefs and there are debates going on inside of religious groups themselves and it is really important to give them space to have those debates.

“I think eventually those groups will come out in the right place and if we look at civil rights movements in history, faith groups have always been at the forefront of fighting for people’s civil rights and equalities.”

He criticised the simplification of the debate and the common portrayal of all religious groups as a single entity.

He said: “I am sometimes not happy with the tone of the debate in the UK and in the press. I think people are particularly hard on Christians and they lump them together as one group and it’s very unfair. There are many people of faith who are incredibly supportive about LGBT equality and it does everyone diservice to have people lump religion into one group.”

Last week, eight City firms announced mentoring for LGBT students pursuing a career in the law (31 January 2012).