2012 Out4Marriage, Homecoming, and Coalition for Equal Marriage
In 2012, the rising tempo of marriage equality was now reaching its grand crescendo. Three notable campaigns: The PinkNews Out4marriage campaign, the YouTube Homecoming video by Mike Buonaiuto, and the Coalition for Equal Marriage group all shared the stage in a nationwide effort to lobby UK Parliament into action.
On March 2012, a consultation was finally opened to introduce civil marriage for same sex couples in England and Wales, but this consultation would not have then developed into the religious opt-in for same-sex marriage we have come to know today without the important backing of a few key players throughout the year.
In the same month the consultation launched, Conor Marron and James Lattimore submitted to PinkNews.co.uk their reason for starting a “Coalition for Equal Marriage” petition.
The petition, which had then gathered around 25,000 signatures in just a few weeks, was set up as a response to the “Coalition for Marriage” campaign started by a Christian group which protested against UK same-sex marriage.
They said: “Yes, gay couples are signing up for Civil Partnerships all the time, and we afforded the same rights under these partnerships as married couples.
“However, in civil weddings up and down the country, all those gathered are told, ‘Marriage according to the law of this country is the union of one man with one woman’. We have our noses rubbed it in every time we attend a civil wedding of a straight couple.”
In June, it was revealed the Catholic Education Service had “blurred” the line between faith and politics by including the anti-gay “Coalition for Marriage” petition in schools.
By April 2012, the campaign “Coalition for Equal Marriage” had reached 40,000 signatures, including a signature by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who was reported to have called it “a matter of how, not whether, equal marriage becomes legal in England and Wales.”
In that same month, another phenomenal campaign for marriage equality was launched on Youtube. The “Homecoming” video by Mike Buonaiuto, which has so far reached over 1 million hits online, tells the simple story of a soldier’s return from the frontlines.
The soldier steps off the plane amid a crowd of gathering families, friends, and lovers – perhaps some of them are even married. His eyes are searching for someone. The music wells.
He walks forward to his embrace his partner, a tall dark-haired and handsome man. Tears are streaming across both of the men’s faces. Then the soldier smiles. He seems prepared to make the ultimate commitment. He gets down on one knee and pulls out an engagement ring. He is proposing to the man he intends to marry.
The video ends with a simple yet poignant message: “All men can be Heroes. All men can be Husbands.”
Mike Buonaiuto, writing for PinkNews.co.uk, said that he “made the film to promote change and also inspire others to use their creativity to support equality and make history happen, not sit back and passively watch it.”
It was by 8 May that Mr Buonaiuto’s wish for creative community-wide support was about to come true. Soon after, PinkNews.co.uk was to launch its Out4Marriage campaign to provide a voice to those in favour of the cause.
The campaign, funded on a shoestring and established with the help of Mr Buonaiuto himself, reached every single national newspaper in the UK with the London Evening Standard exclusively publishing the transcript of each video on the afternoon that it was published. The campaign recently was named runner up in the Online Media Awards, behind The Times’ tax dodging exposé.
As part of the campaign, videos showed support for the legislation of same-sex marriage equality.
The videos included support from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg; Home Secretary Theresa May; Minister for Equalities and Culture Secretary Maria Miller; Labour Leader Ed Miliband, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, Shadow Home Secretary Yvonne Cooper, Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin founder; the film star Hugh Grant; Stephen Fry; the actor Simon Callow; the illusionist Derren Brown; The Saturdays girl group;Jack Straw, the former Foreign Secretary; Caroline Lucas, the former leader of the Green Party; Lynne Featherstone, the Lib Dem Minister; Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner; Lord (Chris) Smith, the first openly gay MP and Rabbi Ariel Friedlander and many, many more.
Out4Marriage also launched its Lobby a Lord campaign in May 2013, which sent more than 20,000 personal messages to MPs in support of marriage equality. These messages have been cited in debates and many of the peers have written back to PinkNews readers thanking them for the personal reasons they have given to change the law.
The March 2012 consultation, which was closed in June 2012, was followed in December by an announcement that the Government would be introducing equal marriage legislation “within the lifetime of this Parliament”.
It was not until the following year, however, that these words would come to transform the equal marriage political campaign into Parliamentary action once and for all.