This has passed its first stage in the House of Commons. It now has to go to the outdated House of Lords, but they cannot block it, they can make amendments and suggestions, but the Commons has the final say.
For myself personally, and I think many of the gay couples I knew, we’d have been happy with a civil partnership to put things on a legal footing and to have recognition for our relationships, which lasted over 20, 30 or 40 years till death of one of the partners in many cases.
I’m not clear on the difference between a civil partnership and a gay marriage, but the latter implies to me aping a heterosexual marriage with vows of monogamy and also the possibility of raising children. This would not have suited many of the gay partnerships I was familiar with which were loving relationships, looking after each other in sickness and health, true soul mates in many cases. However children would never have been considered as part of the household, we had pets instead I guess. Also vows of monogamy would not have been appropriate when all the gay couples I knew had open relationships to some extent. They were often emotional rather than physical relationships, at least after the first few years.
This no doubt reflected the times and laws under which my generation grew up, when it was illegal for two gay men to sleep together, let alone live together. So a culture of quick, casual encounters grew up and the habit was hard to break. Many of the gay couples I knew, and some married couples as well I hasten to add, had separate bedrooms.
Things are changing fast, and it is difficult for some of us in the older generation to appreciate quite how they are changing. We’ve only been fully legal for about 10 years in Britain. The 1967 Sexual Offences Act only legalized gay sex in very restricted circumstances. All ways of meeting and indicating you were ‘up for it’ was technically deemed ‘importuning for an immoral purpose’ and all public shows of affection such as holding hands or kissing were deemed ‘outraging public decency’. Men were charged under these offenses right up to the 21st Century.
Also even two men over 21, neither in the armed forces, living and sleeping together were still breaking the law if they allowed a friend or relation to stay overnight in another room. Thus all gay saunas, backroom clubs, etc., then legal in most of the Western world, were still totally illegal in Britain.
We’ve come an amazing way since the start of the 21st Century, and I believe EU legislation against discrimination on grounds of age, sexual oriention, race, religion, etc. had a lot to do with pushing UK into the 21st Century.
I’m still amazed when gay men and women on afternoon quiz shows calmly introduce their partners, and nobody bats an eyelid.
My partner of 21 years (till he died) has been left off the family tree, and legally I’m not allowed to call myself widowed. Present and future generations of gay men and women no longer have to face these indignities and this lack of recognition of their loving partnerships.