Jacqui Smith happy for her legislation to be repealed to allow same-sex marriage

 

The former minister who championed civil partnerships today said she was happy for her legislation to be repealed - and replaced with plans to allow same-sex marriage.

Jacqui Smith said she was proud of the achievement, but acknowledged gay couples still faced discrimination – and even violence – because they could not marry.

Ms Smith, who was responsible as Equalities Minister for steering the legislation through in 2004, said she now appreciated the moves had not gone far enough.

“Symbols can be as important as hard legal rights,” she wrote on Progressonline. “Differentiating between the long-term legal commitment of a gay couple as compared to a heterosexual couple does, at the margin, provide an ongoing discrimination.

“If there are young people made to feel second class at the thought of this, it should change. If there are thugs who feel more justified in laying into a gay man because of this difference, it should change.”

She added: “I’m proud of the Civil Partnerships Act, but happy now to see it amended (or even repealed).”

The Home Office is consulting over its plans for same-sex marriage, but has made clear it is determined to press ahead with the reform.

John Bercow, the Speaker, angered traditionalist Tories today as he used a speech introducing the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee address at Westminster to praise the progress in winning rights for gay people.

He told her: “This is a land where men and women today are equal under the law and where your people are respected, regardless of how they live, how they look or how they love.”

He added: “You have become, to many of us, a kaleidoscope Queen of a kaleidoscope country in a kaleidoscope Commonwealth.”.

Mr Bercow is the President of the Kaleidoscope Trust, which campaigns for gay rights worldwide.

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