I’m not going to lie, it’s been a fraught couple of weeks, we made a fittingly historic first this LGBT History Month, the majority of the Commons came Out4Marriage! Huzzah! Before we could catch breath we were into the next stages of coming @Out4Marriage.

But with anything worth doing it’s never going to be quick, and sadly not easy. This vote was only the first step in an intricate political tango that we need to complete before the full legislative process for equal marriage is over.

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Step one: Get the ‘commoners’ to agree to the principal that equal marriage should exist – mission accomplished.

Step two: These MPs will set up a scrutiny or Public Bill Committee that would look at the intricacies of the proposals, made up of both MPs both for, and against equal marriage, they will look at the nuances, pull it apart, test its legislative strength and give a report from which amendments will be accordingly put down and debated. Part of this process requires identifying field experts, and Benjamin Cohen, Out4Marriage founder and PinkNews’ Editor and Chief and I, were summoned to the Houses of Parliament to give oral evidence – you can watch this here.

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You too can give evidence in favour of coming Out4Marriage, the committee are seeking written (max. 3,000 word) submissions from specialists in the field and these should be sent to scrutiny@parliament.uk by no later 12th March 2013, the sooner you get them submitted the greater the impact they are likely to have.

Step three: This will be the trickiest of the steps for us to get through, we need to get the House of Lords, the second chamber of our government, to approve of the legislation and as you can imagine, this is a harder audience to win over. So Out4Marriage is asking you this Valentine’s Day to ask a Lord – #WillYouMarryMe? As is the tradition of this country from the 14th century, ‘peasants’ who didn’t have full rights, had to ask their Lords permission if they could get married, a tradition we would have hoped a modern Britain would have put to bed by now, but none-the-less we shall continue it until our the right to marry is ours.

Step four: Fight the amendments that would seek to undermine the value of this Bill – equal marriage for all.

How to ask a Lord – #WillYouMarryMe

You can tweet at the official @UKHouseOfLords twitter account “#WillYouMarryMe by coming @Out4Marriage? – @UKHouseOfLords”

Alternatively you can contact any Lord by eMail: contactholmember@parliament.uk but you must include a name on your eMail and a correspondence address to get a reply – so choose your peer from this handy little list – List of Lords. There are 810 of them to choose from so we suggest you pick one randomly or one with a surname that starts with the same letter.

Finally you can write a good ole letter to: Your Lords Name, House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW, or even leave a voicemail: 020 7219 5353! (24/7)

Once we’ve done this we are on to amendments, and they can be nasty. It’s already been mooted that an amendment to remove all reference to any religious elements of same-sex marriage be put forward, there will be debates as to whether or not heterosexual couples should be offered civil partnerships, and our non-supportive Parliamentarians are hell-bent on trying to pin down how we consummate a same-sex wedding, and if we can ‘bugger’ it up with adultery – if you’ll forgive the pun.

We’re also seeing this Bill as a way to challenge the repeal of Section 28 (2A in Scotland) and protections won during the Goods and Services Bill. Jim Shannon MP, of the DUP was overly keen to hear whether we should infringe on the religious beliefs of teachers and marriage registrars – so let me say this clearly now: No teacher should be able to teach hate, a good teacher will show their pupil how to evaluate and formulate their own opinion based on what they observe and not just what they is assumed, blindly told or even preached. As for civil marriage registrars, you are a public servant, the role is to serve all tax payers, I don’t receive a gay-tax rebate, and I’m definitely not a second class citizen. I’m entitled to access all the services and provisions afforded to me by my citizenship – if you don’t like marrying same-sex couples you shouldn’t be a registrar.

My final comment is for us not to forget the trans members of our community when we do our lobbying for same-sex marriage, their numbers are comparatively few but the brutal reality is we don’t have it great, but it is imaginable and barbaric to me that due to a medical condition you can have your marriage voided and taken back – that’s just abhorrent. Out4Marriage stands squarely shoulder to shoulder with the trans lobby on wanting to see this heinous legal situation change.

Well now it’s Valentine’s Day, and as the only singleton of the Out4Marriage team I’m off to lobby a peer or two, but like all the volunteers that make up O4M, hopefully one day when I finally find someone who is willing to put up with me ’til death do us part’ I hope I can look him in the eye and say I helped make it possible, could you? Get involved.

James-J Walsh
Director Campaigns, Out4Marriage

PS Congratulations to the dozens of couples that have told us they have got engaged since the second reading of the Bill last week – Keep in touch, and send Out4Marriage some photos of your engagement… it really means the world to us to know we are helping make so many couples in our community so happy – James-J xXx