As the House of Lords passes the Third Reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg reflects back on the journey towards equal marriage since he first pledged to support changing the law on PinkNews.co.uk.
We’re almost there. We’ve almost made it. With the Third Reading of the Equal Marriage Bill complete, we’re just a few final steps away from the equal right for gay couples to marry becoming law.
I know you’re saving the champagne for when it actually happens. And that’s right. But it’s also important for us to recognise how much your commitment to this cause has transformed people’s attitudes to equal marriage in this country.
I first talked about this issue on PinkNews over three years ago. Back then, I know many of you feared that equal marriage might never happen. The obstacles to us achieving reform seemed insurmountable.
But we consulted. We debated. And whatever has been said in Parliament since this process began, we know the majority of people in Britain support equal marriage. They see it is right. They say it is fair.
That is the kind of open, modern, tolerant and diverse society we want Britain to be in the 21st Century. Civil partnerships were a landmark reform. And not every couple, gay or straight, feels that they need to get married to affirm their commitment to each other. But only the right to marry, if that’s what you so choose, is true equality. It lets every member – young or old – of our LGBT community know that they are recognised and valued, not excluded. It finally ensures that all loving couples have the freedom and right to make that commitment to each other in our society.
So now let’s focus on taking these last historic strides towards equality. I’m proud of what we’ve all achieved together so far. Now it’s time for us to make history. Let’s give same-sex couples the equality they deserve and that people across this country believe they should have.
Nick Clegg is the Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister for the United Kingdom