I have previously shared my thoughts supporting the introduction of same-sex marriage and various comments by religious leaders in the last week have, rather than change my mind, re-affirmed my belief in equality and non-discrimination.
Today, the Government Equalities Office launched its consultation into equal civil marriage. Some people may be disappointed that the consultation skims over two important issues in this debate.
Whilst I and many others have focused on same-sex marriage provisions, as this is the element which is lacking, this campaign is really about equality. And equality should apply equally to opposite-sex couples. So whilst the Government’s consultation asks only a cursory question as to whether civil partnerships should be opened up to opposite-sex couples, I would suggest that this is a necessary step to ensure equality is not devalued.
The consultation makes clear that is doesn’t focus on same-sex religious marriages. In my response to the consultation I have suggested that whilst appeasing religious organisations helps to move equal marriage forward, there should be some flexibility in the legislation to allow those religious organisations who are supportive of same-sex marriages to “opt-in”. Several religious groups have indicated their support. We should allow them their freedom to choose also.
Government consultations are an important part of the legislative process. If we are to secure equal civil marriage then we must all act to further encourage the Government. Sitting back and watching events unfold is not an option is equal marriage is to become a reality. You can be very sure that those opposed to giving LGBT people equal rights will be rallying together. We must do them same!
Completing the consultation form takes only a few minutes. Your support is vital.
Here is my answer to Question 2 of the consultation, asking me to explain why I support equal marriage:
The UK has been a world leader in establishing equality and non-discrimination amongst all sections of society. We now operate in a culture which accepts that people are equal in terms of their human and civil rights, yet there are still pockets of injustice perpetuated by legislation which has failed to keep up with the overwhelming tide of support for equality.
As a gay man I want to be able to publicly show my commitment to my chosen partner in the same way and with the same benefits as those enjoyed by opposite-sex couples. The provisions of civil partnerships, whilst an important step forward, do not provide true equality.
Many of the arguments against the provision of same-sex marriage echo those against acceptance of inter-racial marriages. The world has not imploded as racial equality has evolved!
Enabling same-sex marriage does not cheapen marriage, or change it in any way for those in opposite-sex marriages. However, it does enable a section of our society to be treated as full equals; It encourages the principles of family and community which marriage engenders; And it allows the UK to continue its strong support for equality and non-discrimination.