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In UK, Coalition For Marriage blasted for bid to block marriage-equality efforts

LONDON -- Marriage-equality activists condemned today's launch of Coalition For Marriage, an anti-gay group that opposes marriage equality in the United Kingdom.

Lord Carey, the controversial former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Colin Hart, director of the right-wing Christian Institute, hosted a news conference today to announce the coalition's formation.

Peter Tachell, coordinator of the Equal Love campaign that seeks to legalize civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples and civil partnerships for straight couples, blasted the coalition for backing discrimination and opposing equality.

"The Coalition For Marriage is intolerant and out of touch. It's support for the ban on gay marriage is homophobic and discrimination," said Tatchell, who is also director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

"Coalition members are entitled to believe that same-sex marriages are wrong, but they are not entitled to demand that their opposition to such marriages should be imposed on the rest of society and enforced by law."

Coalition For Marriage launched today in London.

"The Coalition For Marriage opposes same-sex marriage; claiming that it wants to defend 'traditional marriage' and halt attempts to 'redefine' it," Tachell said.

"The coalition is out of touch with public opinion. Most British people now support marriage equality," he said.

A Populus poll in 2009 found that 61% of the UK public believe: 'Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.' Only 33% disagreed.

"The ban on same-sex marriage is discrimination. It violates the democratic principle that everyone should be equal before the law," Tatchell said.

"It was recently claimed that 100 Conservative MPs are bidding to veto the government's commitment to legalise same-sex marriage before the next election. If true, this is evidence that substantial sections of the Tory party still back homophobic discrimination," he said.

"The Equal Love campaign is building political momentum. The right of gay couples to marry is backed by David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, Boris Johnson and a growing number of Tory MPs, including Chloe Smith, Mike Weatherley and Margot James," Tatchell said.

"In 2010, the Green Party national conference was the first to vote to end the twin bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships. It was followed by the Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru conferences. Oddly, the Labour conference has declined to vote on the issue; although the GMB, Unison and all 13 Labour MEPs want an end to sexual orientation discrimination in both marriage and partnership law," he said.

"The SNP government in Scotland is leading the way, with its public consultation on marriage equality already concluded; while David Cameron has twice postponed the start of his consultation, from last summer to next month," Tatchell said.

"One year ago this month, four gay couples and four heterosexual couples, sponsored by the Equal Love campaign, filed a historic joint appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

"Their appeal argues that Britain's twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships amount to illegal discrimination, contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. The bans violate Articles 8, 12 and 14 - respectively the right to privacy and family life, the right to marry and the right to non-discrimination," Tatchell said.