Nick Clegg writes for PinkNews on the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales and its importance, and significance in British society.
If you’ve already popped the question, you can now set a date. From Saturday 29 March 2014, the first equal marriage ceremonies will be taking place in England and Wales.
These same-sex wedding ceremonies will mark not just the beginning of a new life for some as husband and husband or wife and wife, but also a landmark moment for all gay couples and individuals across our country. Finally, if they want to, they will now have the same legal right to marry as heterosexual couples.
I couldn’t be prouder – and that goes for the whole Liberal Democrat party. And, as this right becomes an essential part of the fabric of our society, we must remember the struggle and commitment of all of those who have campaigned so hard to get us to this point.
That includes the tireless work of publications like PinkNews, its readers and journalists, and the countless gay men and women who stood up and said their love deserves to be recognised and respected just as much as yours. The British public listened, understood and agreed and our Government acted to make this change a reality.
It’s also important that we never forget those children, young people and adults who still experience homophobic bullying in their day-to-day lives. I want them to know that we will continue to do all that we can to ensure this type of prejudice and discrimination has no place in modern Britain today.
What the fight for equal marriage, and equal rights as a whole, shows us is that with enough determination, change is always possible. In the last five decades alone, we’ve come a huge way in this country to transform both the attitudes and laws that isolated, and unfairly treated, people who are gay, trans or bi-sexual. But there’s still work to be done.
Our message is that, whatever your background, sexuality or gender, love is the same the world over and equal rights make every society fairer and stronger. That is what I will continue to say to all those people in power, or not, who seek to deny these freedoms to others across the world. And I am personally saddened to see that, in places such as India, that goal has receded further in recent weeks.
Together, we can inspire and support those still working to achieve reform in their own countries. And, as we celebrate the first same-sex marriages in this country, let us remember that their fight carries on.
In Britain, we’ve shown that change can, and must, happen. So, if you are planning a spring wedding or not, I want to send you and your loved ones all my very best wishes for a bright and happy future in a fairer society.
Nick Clegg is Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Liberal Democrats