Read Luke's blog post about equal marriage and what it means for him.
The LGBT community has longed looked forward to the day marriage equality becomes a reality and that day is finally here. Hurrah.
If I’m honest I have mixed feelings about today.
I’m over the moon about the fact that gay and lesbian relationships will, finally, receive the same standing in law and language as those enjoyed by heterosexual couples. It’s a fantastic achievement for equality campaigners, a massive step forward by our country and something very real that will mean the world to so many people, including me.
It’s also a day that makes me stop and think about my own relationship.
I’ve been with my boyfriend for four years. He’s amazing, but we are not yet ready to get married. What I do know is that when the time comes for us to get engaged I don't want any stuffy law, outdated decree or ignorant legal discrimination to tell us what we can or cannot do with our relationship. That is our choice and thanks to equal marriage it is finally our decision, not that of Government, Parliament or any other institution.
We've spoken about it a lot and we are not certain we want to get married. We're not anti-marriage, we are just not sure it is for us just yet. But let me tell you what I am 100 per cent, absolutely convinced about: I want the right to marry whoever I fall in love with regardless of their gender or sexuality. And if I want to get married then I want my relationship to have the same standing in language and law as my married straight friends enjoy. I’m not interested in a qualified contract where words are deployed to limit or differentiate the love of LGBT people for each other compared to straight couples. That’s why I say ‘equal marriage’ not ‘gay marriage’ because today is about getting the same, equal rights to marry, not a special category or bonus rights - the same rights. Not one right more, not one right less - equal.
And that’s what today is all about. It is about celebrating the fact that from today two people, regardless of their sexuality or gender can tie the knot. They can proclaim publicly and achieve recognition in law that they love each other and receive the benefits and rights that marriage brings. It’s a fantastic day.
Whether my boyfriend and I get married is our decision. But the fact that it is only from today that the choice is ours and ours alone is important.
The rights of LGBT people have changed enormously since 1997. Equalisation of the age of consent, gay adoptions, rights to serve openly in the military, civil partnerships and scrapping of the homophobic Section 28 are achievements of which we should be justly proud. Equal Marriage may have been introduced by a Tory Prime Minister but let’s be absolutely clear on this, equal marriage only became law because Labour MPs voted for it. Mr Cameron couldn’t persuade enough of his own MPs to vote for marriage equality but Ed Miliband could and did and it is thanks to the Labour Party that we are where we are today.
And so, today, let’s celebrate equal marriage in all its forms. From the Labour volunteer in Plymouth who is counting down the days until he marries his girlfriend, to the gay couple I met on the doors last week who were looking forward to tying the knot. One day that might be me and my boyfriend. Maybe. But from today on, it’s a choice I can make with my partner, not an option that has been ruled out already. We are all now a little more equal and that makes today a very good day.
- Luke Pollard is the Labour & Co-operative Parliamentary Candidate for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport.