I was delighted that the States voted for same-sex marriage in December 2015. My speech is below.
Sir, before I begin I think I should say that I believe it is important that we respect all sides on this debate. Those who wish things to remain as they are, those seeking a halfway house for same sex couples and those, like me, who believe we should seek equality. For me this has been one of the easiest decisions I’ve had to make over the last few years.
We must be tolerant of others’ views, even if we don’t agree with them. It is a long slippery slope to the bottom when we don’t. We only have to witness recent global events and see how intolerance has led to unimaginable acts of barbarity, fear and terror. That is what I have kept reminding myself when reading some of the emails I have received against the proposals in this policy letter. Because it has been very difficult for me to understand why some do not believe LGBT people should have equal rights as equal members of our society. They pay their taxes too after all.
But I can understand how much harder it may be for the older members of our society. Over the last 50 years, since I was born and Deputy Paint was married, my parent’s generation have experienced massive societal changes. For some it has been very difficult to move with them. Change can be frightening as we all know, fear of the unknown and where it places you in that new world. We have to respect those we disagree with, although I have to say I have struggled with the content of some of the emails I have received.
We hear how this goes beyond the original requete in 2006 that instructed Policy Council to look at civil partnerships. But that was 9 years ago, life has moved on and I suspect all those who signed the requete back then would support same-sex marriage today.
The overriding theme from those opposed to this policy letter is it will redefine marriage. In fact after a while it was possible to work out those pro and anti, just by the heading. Pro said gay, same-sex marriage, the antis – redefinition of marriage. It was all in the word.
Well, if you ask my husband he’d probably say marriage isn’t a word, it’s a sentence.
But those who do not want equality say that marriage has meant the same thing since the dawn of time. BUT this is completely wrong of course.
When the United States Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to marriage in June this year, Justice Anthony Kennedy stated, “this view of marriage as timeless and unchanging was contradicted by an abundance of scholarly work. “The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change.”
For centuries most people didn’t get married at all and marriage was for the aristocracy bothered about passing on their property and riches and wanting an heir and a spare.
Today marriage in our society, is about love. Finding a life partner who will be with you, care for you and love you through good times and bad times. It’s not about property, it’s not about procreation. It’s about love. And finding a soul mate is not exclusive to heterosexual couples.
No one owns the copyright to the word marriage.
I have been lucky enough to have been happily married for 26 years. You’ll have to ask my husband whether he thinks the same. Anyhow, I believe everyone in an equally loving relationship, should have the same opportunity and have their relationship recognised in law in exactly the same way.
Finally I should just to comment about what has really heartened me throughout the lead up to this debate and that is the level of engagement from the younger members of our society and listening to their views. They have LGBT friends who are just that, friends. And why can’t they have the same rights as everyone else? We owe it to them.
In 1967, in a ruling which overturned bans on inter-racial marriage in the US, the judge Earl Warren stated
“The freedom to marry has long been recognised as one of the vital personal rights, essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free man.” I would add woman to that but otherwise, that is my belief too and anyone else who believes that should support this policy letter.
And in the end that’s why we need to support this policy letter today, for my children’s generation. To enable all of them to have the opportunity of happiness.