At the Liberal Democrats’ Spring Conference this weekend, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg promised the UK’s first gay marriage would take place before 2015 as a result of Liberal Democrats being in government.
A consultation on how to implement legislation affording gays equal marriage rights is due to open this week.
That consultation was announced in September last year, with the news that prime minister David Cameron was “emphatically” in favour of the change.
On PinkNews.co.uk in February 2010, Nick Clegg first called for gay marriage.
In a question and answer session with readers, he said: “Love is the same, straight or gay, so the civil institution should be the same, too. All couples should be able to make that commitment to one another.”
At the conference this weekend, the deputy prime minister described the party as “heirs to the great, British liberal cause”.
Mr Clegg said: “We are bringing forward proposals for gay marriage, already provoking debate. Let me just say, if you are a young gay person, your freedom to love who you choose is a fundamental right in a liberal society – and you will always have our support.”
Adrian Trett, chair of LGBT+ Lib Dems, the party’s body for sexual and gender minorities, added the Liberal Democrats are the “first and currently only major party to support marriage equality”.
An ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph showed 45 percent supported equality in marriage and 36 percent opposed. A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times found 43 percent in favour, 32 percent in favour of civil partnerships but not marriage and only 15 percent opposed to both.
In an interview with the Sunday Times at the end of a week in which the Catholic Church stepped up its opposition to the move, Equality Minister Lynne Featherstone described “misjudged” and “homophobic” language used by some opponents of equal marriage.
She said: “We have no wish to cross over into territory that is not ours, no desire to stop those who believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
“They [the opponents] do not have to agree with this. But we will have to agree to disagree because for those who want to express their love in a civil marriage, then I think the state is here to facilitate that and to encourage it and rejoice in it.”