In late October, PinkNews will hold a Parliamentary retrospective and awards, celebrating the contributions of politicians, businesses and community groups towards LGBT equality in what has been a truly historic year for LGBT equality in our country.

The event, held in the State Rooms at the Speaker’s House, will be introduced by the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. Mr Bercow is a well known supporter of LGBT rights and his coat of arms features a rainbow flag together with the pink triangle; both symbols of gay rights, around the words “All Are Equal”. Among the speakers at the event will be the Deputy Prime Minister and occasional PinkNews columnist Nick Clegg, with further major political figures to be announced in the leadup to the event.

While some of the awards will be decided by a panel of experts, some are up to you, our readers. Below are the nominations for the first award that we are today inviting you to vote on.

Covering the Parliamentary process for the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act was the largest single editorial challenge that PinkNews has ever attempted. Throughout the process, we provided live blog coverage, speedily written speech summaries and up to the minute analysis of the likely outcome for each vote. Our coverage was highly commended at the Online Media Awards 2013, where we were named runner-up, behind The Times.

From all of this coverage, our team and experts have selected four nominees for Parliamentary Speech of the Year: Lib Dem Baroness Liz Barker, who publicly came out in her speech; Conservative MP Mike Freer, who passionately and personally appealed to his colleagues to treat him equally; Former Thatcher Cabinet minister Lord Jenkin, who explained how he was taught by his grandfather never to discriminate against a gay person; and finally, Labour MP David Lammy who drew an analogy between the USA’s segregation policy and the ‘separate but equal’ system of gay civil partnerships and straight marriages.

Baroness Barker, of Anagach in Highland (Liberal Democrat)

“My Lords, I declare an interest. Many years ago, I had the great good fortune to meet someone. She and I have loved each other ever since—that is, apart from the occasional spectacular argument, usually about driving or DIY. As the slogans on the T-shirts used to say, it happens in the best of families…What we are doing today does not undermine any existing or future marriage. It extends the status of marriage to gay men and lesbians who want to make a public commitment in the presence of their families and friends, and sometimes their co-religionists. It reflects the wishes of those people who today do not want just to tolerate lesbians and gay men; they want to celebrate and support them as people in their own right.”

Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green (Conservative)

“The proudest day was when I entered into my civil partnership, which I did six years ago, with my partner of 21 years. Our civil partnership was a huge step for us, and yet many argue that we should be content with that—after all, it affords us all the same legal protections as marriage. I ask my married colleagues: did they get married for the legal protections it afforded them? Did they go down on one knee and say, ‘Darling, please give me the protections marriage affords us’? Of course they did not. My civil partnership was our way of saying to my friends and my family that this is who I love, this is who I am and this is who I want to spend the rest of my life with. I am not asking for special treatment; I am simply asking for equal treatment…Today, we have an opportunity to do what is right and to do some good. I am a Member of this Parliament and I say to my colleagues that I sit alongside them in Committee, in the bars and in the Tea Room, and I queue alongside them in the Division Lobby, but when it comes to marriage, they are asking me to stand apart and to join a separate queue. I ask my colleagues, if I am equal in this House, to give me every opportunity to be equal.”

Lord Jenkin of Roding (Conservative)

“I have come to the firm conclusion that there is nothing to fear in gay marriage and that, indeed, it will be a positive good not just for same-gender unions but for the institution of marriage generally. The effect will be to put right at the centre of marriage the concept of a stable, loving relationship. As a practising Christian, perhaps I may make the point to the Bishops’ Benches, including to the most reverend Primate, that there is every reason why, in time, the Anglican Church should come to accept that, although I recognise that it may take some time. The character of love which marriage reflects—that it is faithful, stable, tough, unselfish and unconditional—is the same character that most Christians see in the love of God. Marriage is therefore holy, not because it is ordained by God, but because it reflects that most important central truth of our religion: the love of God for all of us.”

David Lammy, MP for Tottenham (Labour)

“There are still those who say it is unnecessary. ‘Why do we need gay marriage’, they say, ‘when we already have civil partnerships?’ They are, they claim, ‘Separate but equal.’ Let me speak frankly: separate but equal is a fraud. It is the language that tried to push Rosa Parks to the back of the bus. It is the motif that determined that black and white people could not possibly drink from the same water fountain, eat at the same table or use the same toilets. They are the words that justified sending black children to different schools from their white peers—schools that would fail them and condemn them to a life of poverty. It is an excerpt from the phrasebook of the segregationists and racists. It is the same statement, idea and delusion that we borrowed in this country to say that women could vote, but only if they were married and only when they were over 30. It is the same naivety that led to my Dad being granted citizenship when he arrived here in 1956, but being refused by landlords who proclaimed, ‘No blacks, no Irish, no dogs’.

Voting in this category has now closed. The winner will be announced following the awards on 23 October

The PinkNews Awards event will be generously supported by:-

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