Louise Baldock, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Stockton South, writes on what equal marriage means to her. The Marriage Act (Same Sex Couples) takes effect on March 29th.
When you fall in love with someone and everything is going really well, when you finally believe this is “the one” and the passage of time has done nothing to dispel that impression, your thoughts may well turn to making a permanent formal commitment to each other. You daydream for hours about which of you will propose, who will choose the rings, what you will wear, what the flowers will look like, what song will play when you walk down the aisle after the service and who will be present to witness and share in your joy… I’ve been there, I expect you have too.
Until ten years ago same-sex couples could only daydream, they were forced to create imaginative ceremonies of their own at home, in shady woodlands, sunlit fields or on sandy beaches, where friends would bless their relationships and wish them well but the event carried no legal status and there was no formal recognition of their commitment. They would have a lovely day and then go back home together knowing that nothing had significantly changed.
2004 saw the establishment of Civil Partnerships and for the first time two women or two men could be legally joined together. Indeed I remember one Superintendent Registrar proudly telling me about officiating that year for two women in their seventies who were delighted that at last they could recognise the relationship they had enjoyed for forty years.
But for many couples this was still not enough; similar but different, acceptance but only to a certain degree, a great start but not the whole deal. A couple of friends ten years ago explained they were holding out for “the real thing”, for marriage, for their union to be on an equal footing with everyone’s around them. They have children together and have shared a happy home for decades, they already know their relationship is successful and fulfilling, what they long for is to marry each other and realise their own dreams of their big day, along with full parity with the straight world in their on-going lives together.
From this weekend, March 29th, finally they will be able to do just that. The passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, secured with the backing of a huge number of Labour MPs comes into effect in England and Wales on Saturday. From this day forth any couple who falls in love and knows this is “the one” will be able to rejoice in marriage irrespective of whether they will each be kissing the bride, or indeed the groom, it’s a tremendous moment and for many loving couples it couldn’t come soon enough.
Thank you Labour!
Louise tweets @LouiseBaldock