Not exclusive but inclusive

In the last ten years the fight for gay equality has come a long way. In 2004 we won the right to enter into a civil partnership. In 2009 we won the right to have our names on the birth certificates of our children and the legal parental responsibility rights that come with it.

Now we are fighting for equality in marriage.

I don’t believe that we are fighting for ‘gay marriage’. It sounds too exclusive, as if we need a special kind of marriage for gay people, a bit more pink and sparkly.

We don’t want to be exclusive, we want to be included.

We already have legal rights and responsibilities when we enter in to a commitment with each other and we use the terminology of a marriage. We have that in the form of civil partnerships. And it works for us. I already refer to myself as married and to Kerry as my wife. Our civil partnership was our wedding and we are in a marriage. What we are fighting for now is equality. Inclusion. Why should we be legally excluded from civil marriage? We deserve the same legal rights as others and we are campaigning to get them.

The author Shelley Harris has summed it up beautifully in her blog.* “The inequality which currently exists will be seen as barbaric, in the same way in which we now view male-only voting or Apartheid as barbaric.” She sees it for what it is, inequality. We don’t want to change marriage, or break it, we just want the right to take part.

Those who are voicing their disagreement and disgust are claiming that marriage is, and should remain, a union between man and woman. I understand their belief that religious weddings should remain between man and woman. Fine, great, as you were. But why civil weddings? We are not asking for the right to marry in a church, or any other religious establishment. We are asking for the equal right to a civil marriage by the state. No religion, no special circumstances or agendas. Just two people who love each other enough to make a legally binding commitment to each other, being legally allowed to make that commitment.

So to the dissenters, I hand you over to the chief executive of Stonewall, Ben Summerskill, ‘Our strong advice to anyone who disagrees with same-sex marriage is not to get married to someone of the same sex.’**

** this website explodes the main myths surrounding the equal marriage campaign and also has a link to the petition to support it.