I’m interrupting this broadcast with a quick nod to something outside the realm of adoption. Since a large part of this blog is aimed at posterity, I thought I should point out that yesterday, MPs voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill by a majority of 400 to 175. It was a big day and seems, to many, to represent the final hurdle in a long-fought battle for gay civil rights in this country.
The months leading up to this moment have been pretty tough. The parliamentary row over the issue has created a forum for offensive, hateful and plain nonsensical arguments, put forward by individuals citing the protection of ‘religion’, ‘morality’ and, most importantly, ‘family’. Here’s one of my favourites:
“There are huge dangers in going along this route for children and for families, and frankly for marriage itself, you could go on to have more than one partner, you could marry and decide you’re gay after all and change, and people do that [already] but is [equal marriage] encouraging it?… If you think of little children, they are best brought up if possible in a family.” Lavinia Sealy, Conservative chair of Surrey County Council.
Throughout, the arguments against equal marriage have spiraled quickly into rubbish and laid their authors wide open to ridicule. There’s been a lot of talk of ‘liberal facism’, but that’s just another attempt to subvert the issue. We’ve waited a long time for this and, quite frankly, these days I’m pretty pissed off that anyone at all gets to legislate on my right to marry. It’s incredibly tiresome. When I was 16 and not even out yet I wrote to the Daily Mail to express outrage at their campaign against the repeal of Section 28. At my first ever London Pride I joined a protest calling for gay parenting rights. I’ve seen the gay age of consent lowered. I’ve seen Civil Partnerships brought in. I’ve got civilly partnered. Enough already – it’s time to sort it all out and move it all along.
Someone should tell Lib Dem ‘moderniser’ Louise Teather, who, after declaring her support for equal marriage, did the mother of all U-turns and voted against it. I sent her a message on Facebook this morning. I was pretty incensed by the U-turn and even more so by her argument that she voted against the bill because, “I fear that it will accelerate changes already occurring that makes family life more unstable.” My Facebook message won’t do any good, of course. But it made a change from sending complaint emails to First Great Western.
This is what I wrote: “Hi Sarah, I’m in a Civil Partnership and, when the bill you voted against goes through, I’m going to be married. My right to use that little word is important to me because people like you don’t think I should use it. Oh and, me and my partner of eleven years are also adopting. Then I’ll get to use another little word that’s important to me – ‘family’.”
I know that one day, surely by the time they read this, my kids will find it hard to comprehend a country where their mums’ relationship was considered inferior. I’ll get the ‘marriage upgrade’ for the same reason I will always vote – even if to simply spoil my ballot paper. Because these rights are hard won. Today’s a good day, because it’s hit home that, when you’re living it, progress is fast, it’s ruthless and it’s unstoppable.
The Lavinias and Louises of this world don’t stand a chance. History will remember them as – oh wait – no it won’t.