The founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, has become the most high profile figure so far to film a video for the Out4Marriage campaign, which calls for global equal marriage for gay couples.
Sir Richard, who went into business the year homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales, said that despite advances in equal rights over the years, “one key right is denied, the right for every couple in love to marry.”
In his Out4Marriage video, Sir Richard says: “I’m Richard Branson, the Founder of the Virgin Group. For many years, I’ve been a supporter of gay rights around the world. Back in 1967 when we founded a charity called the Student Advisory Centre, the law was changed to make it legal to be gay in England and Wales. We took many calls from young people in the process of coming out, and we were able to offer some support and guidance. But these people were coming out into a world that still hugely discriminated against them because of the gender of the person they loved.
“Over the years, across the world, gay people have been given more and more rights. But in the UK, much of the US and many other countries one key right is denied, the right for every couple in love to marry. Getting married myself and giving my daughter Holly away at her wedding last year, are among the proudest days of my life. Everybody should be able to experience those moments if they wish to do so regardless of their sexuality.
“At Virgin, we treat everybody the same, whether they are straight or whether they are gay and the law should too. That’s why I’m Out4Marriage, are you?”
The Out4Marriage.org campaign, launched in Britain to bolster the Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise to introduce gay marriage and President Barack Obama’s personal pledge for the measure allows politicians, celebrities, business leaders, religious figures and members of the public to record videos explaining why they support a change in the law.
Celebrities including girl band The Saturdays have also taken part with many big names soon to be announced. British politicians who have already filmed their videos include Equality Minister Lynne Featherstone, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and former soap star Michael Cashman, who is now a Member of the European Parliament. A senior Conservative cabinet minister’s Out4Marriage video is expected to be revealed next week.
Mike Buonaiuto of the Out4Marriage.org campaign told PinkNews.co.uk: “Sir Richard’s contribution to Out4Marriage shows that changing the law not only has a growing levels of support across the political spectrum but also from leading figures in the world of business and popular culture. We are in the process of releasing further videos from global celebrities, political and religious leaders and we’re inundated with videos filmed by members of the public.
“Out4Marriage as a campaign has been designed to show that while gay people might make up less than ten percent of the population, giving all couples the right to marry benefits 100 percent. Because, just like Sir Richard, everyone has some contact with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered people, from their family members, to their friends, to their work colleagues, to their neighbours or even just their favourite celebrity. It’s in everyone’s interest for every person to be treated the same under the law.”
Sir Richard joins other celebrities who have recently spoken out in favour of gay couples marrying including the rapper Jay-Z and the actor Will Smith.
On the day President Obama gave his personal support to equal marriage for gay couples, Out4Marriage was launched by PinkNews.co.uk and the Coalition for Equal Marriage with support from the media agency Remarkable and volunteers from around the world.
Visit Out4Marriage at its website and on Facebook to see more videos. To come Out4Marriage, simply email a video to hello@Out4Marriage.org. The best videos will be shared on PinkNews.co.uk