The case for gay marriage is clear and unambiguous. It derives from the definition of equality, which is unchanging, rather than that of marriage, which changes with surprising regularity. Equality: the state of being equal in status, rights and opportunities.
I would think that. After all, I’m a gay man. But I am not the only LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) person who needed a little persuading that gay marriage was for us.
All my adult life I have been a convinced atheist with strong libertarian instincts. I didn’t need the state, far less the church, to validate me for who I was.
Marriage struck me as flawed institution at the best of times. We were gay, we’d broken the rules, we had our freedom, why should we bind ourselves into an institution designed for the straight world? And one whose rules most of them struggled to obey.
There was a touch of Oscar Wilde about it. “Not only would I never want to belong to any club that would have me for a member – if elected I would wear street shoes on the squash court.”
If we were loved, surrounded by friends, protected from discrimination at work and in our everyday lives, who needed marriage?
I was even a little agnostic about civil partnerships. I supported them absolutely in principle, but it took me a while to get round to it myself. My partner James and I have been together 16 years. We had our civil partnership in 2008, fours years after the legislation was passed. We thought it was a good idea for inheritance purposes really. And then something happened.
We loved it. Surrounded by our families and friends, it became a genuine and meaningful celebration of our love for each other. The only question that floored me was from my 12-year-old nephew. “Why did we call James ‘Uncle James’ even when you weren’t in a civil partnership?”
I’m now Executive Director of an international LGBT human rights charity, the Kaleidoscope Trust. In the 80 or more jurisdictions around the world where homosexual acts are still illegal, and sometimes even punishable by death, there are few calls for gay marriage. Being able to live without the constant fear of being attacked, arrested or killed would be progress.
What that work has convinced me of, however, is that equality is the only benchmark for justice. We are equal in all things or we are not equal at all. So now I passionately want – no, demand - to be a member of the club however flawed its current members may be. Just so long as I can wear whatever shoes I want to the ceremony.
Lance Price is Executive Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust