The Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, has reiterated his support for marriage equality between gay and straight couples in England and Wales, affirming that it is no longer a question of ‘if’ the move will go ahead.
In his video for the Out4Marriage campaign, Mr Clegg said he was committed to equality before reaching government and is committed to making it “happen now” his party is in the Coalition government.
Despite the “heated debate”, he said, it was no longer a matter of “if” the changes would be pursued and said gay, straight and transgender people should have the “fundamental right” to love in a liberal society.
Mr Clegg becomes the most senior politician to record a message and the first since the Home Office’s public consultation on marriage equality closed last week.
In his Out4Marriage video, Nick Clegg said: “I’ve always been very clear on this: 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, regardless of who they love.
“I fought for equal marriage before I was in Government, and I’m even more committed to making it happen now – as a Liberal Democrat and as Deputy Prime Minister.
“We brought forward our proposals – they have provoked a heated debate.
“But these are proposals about when and how to open up civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ any more.
“And to those who are worried about some of the opposition to this move or the tone of the debate, let me just say, whether you are a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or straight: your freedom to love who you choose is a fundamental right in a liberal society – and you will always have our support. That’s why I’m Out4Marriage.”
Mr Clegg became the first major political leader to support equal marriage when in 2010 he wrote for PinkNews.co.uk: “I support gay marriage. 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.”
Supporters of the Out4Marriage campaign so far include the Home Secretary Theresa May, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, Shadow Home Secretary Yvonne Cooper, Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin founder; The Saturdays girl group; Jack Straw, the former Foreign Secretary; David Walliams, the Britain’s Got Talent judge; Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green party; Lynne Featherstone, the Lib Dem Equalities Minister; Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner; Lord (Chris) Smith), the Advertising Standards Authority chairman and Rabbi Ariel Friedlander.
The campaign has also received hundreds of submissions from members of the public which are gradually being published on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
James-J Walsh, Parliamentary campaigner for Out4Marriage said: “We’re delighted that Nick Clegg has become just the latest high profile politician to record a video in support of the Out4Marriage campaign, to ensure that every couple regardless of gender is able to marry. As a long-term supporter of equality in marriage, Out4Marriage welcomes Mr Clegg’s personal commitment that the Government will legislate to introduce equal marriage now.
“As Out4Marriage submitted in its response to the Government consultation, we believe that equal marriage means same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in registry offices and other civil venues but also that churches, synagogues and other religious institutions should be allowed to solemnise same-sex marriages if they wish to do so. No institution should be forced to hold same-sex marriages, but those that wish to, should be allowed to, because religious freedom is important too.”