Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Same-Sex Marriage Bill is FINALLY Passed!

I wish I could have written this on the day it was announced but I was suffering major connection difficulties (I had to cope with very little WiFi for seven days... it's easier said than done!) but alas, I am writing it now - better late than never. If you live near a TV or radio I trust you would've heard the news that the Marriage (same-sex) bill passed royal assent with the Queen signing it off as 'one of the most important documents she's ever signed' thus allowing couples of the same gender to be recognised as 'married' under the eyes of the law. It could be argued that the government only did it to boost votes but it doesn't matter because finally common sense has prevailed over bigotry. Halle-freaking-lujah!

It was uplifting to see so many people, gay and straight, showing clear support for the bill which was long overdue. The second reading in the House of Commons won a large majority of 400-175 in favour after it was put to a vote and 366-161 after the third reading. The House of Lords also surprisingly showed clear support for the bill with 72% in favour during the second reading and on the 17th July it received Royal Assent becoming The Marriage (Same-Sex) Act 2013 - I like to think of it as a late birthday present.

Now I really don't want to be a pessimist and take away from the occasion because I for one wholeheartedly welcomed it, but just because gay marriage has become law in this country doesn't mean we've made it to the ultimate goal of equality. In a country which likes to boast a modern way of thinking, it still had people who opposed the bill on seemingly outdated reasons. The cliche religious excuses emerged including 'it undermines the sanctity of marriage', 'marriage is between a man and a woman' and 'it says in the bible that God didn't like gays so we can't let them marry!'.

If you look further afield, in the USA there are still 37 states that do not allow couples of the same gender to marry and the American Supreme Court only just overturned the Defense of Marriage Act last month. In a supposedly liberal France there was some rioting in the capital after the country announced such marriage had become law - with a French historian committing suicide in the Notre Dame Cathedral in an act of protest. In Uganda there is a bill currently going through their parliament dubbed the 'Kill The Gays' bill in which they plan to use capital punishment against those convicted of 'aggravated homosexuality' and life imprisonment for first-time offenders. The accomplishment of gay marriage in that country looks a life time away.

There is no doubt that this is a major victory for the LGBT community and for those who, gay or straight, seek marriage equality. I am content with the knowledge that in the future if I wish to get married I may, but in other countries people are being arrested and imprisoned and even killed for something they cannot help or change. Those who publicly condemn this treatment of homosexuals and support gay rights are hunted down and beaten for holding these views. Governments and communities in developing countries indoctrinate the next generation of children into believing gay men caused HIV, and all of them are infected with this illness. They argue all gay men are paedophiles and will pray on little children so it's best that you alienate them from your community in the name of protecting the young. This homophobia isn't just in third world countries, in the USA any male scout leader who comes out as gay is sacked on the spot because there is still this ludicrous belief that they are trying to harm children. It's heartbreaking to know that if I was born in one of these third world countries I'd be suffering the same barbaric homophobia and you, if you support equal marriage, could also be imprisoned for believing in equality.

However I am honestly delighted that this bill survived all the stages to get to royal assent because it appears that, after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA, things are starting to change for the better. He split his party on this topic and went against the Conservative party's ideology but I am also happy with what David Cameron has done and I never thought I'd say that! But... we've still got a long way to go yet.

I leave you with this music video by American rapper Macklemore (it's not a secret to people who know me in saying that he's pretty much my God). The song is called 'Same Love' and it concerns equal marriage in the USA but many of the points he raises are just as relevant throughout the world. By releasing this song Macklemore became one of the very first rappers to publicly back gay marriage and with more people like this guy, the world would be a much better place. (Look out for him, he's near the end of the video holding a sparkler).


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