Almost twenty years ago I fell in love with a man called David who changed my life. He had worked in advertising, and then moved into film. I had come out as gay five years before, and met David at a dinner party I was hosting. We exchanged numbers, and I asked him to dinner the following night, which happened to be Halloween. Like any couple in the first flush of romance, we there was the thrill of mutual attraction. Soon that developed into something much stronger, as we realised we had something that would last forever. Though there were ups and downs, looking back I feel like, even in those early days, we knew the other person was "the one". The rest, as they say, is history.
And literally so: on 21 December 2005, the first day that gay couples in Britain were allowed to obtain a civil partnership, David and I did exactly that, in a ceremony at Windsor Guildhall. Now, six and a half years on from the happiest day of my life, when we have a beautiful boy called Zachary I would love nothing more than to make history again - by marrying David. If we legalise gay marriage in Britain, you can bet your last penny that I'll be pushing to call him my husband at the first opportunity - though whether he or I go down on one knee is a matter for negotiation!
I know a lot of people, and perhaps especially religious people, will say that David and I should count ourselves lucky for living in a country that allows civil partnerships, and call it quits there. In most countries around the world, gay people aren't just disallowed from coming together in a legal sense; they are actually persecuted by governments because of their sexuality. Maybe we should just be happy that we at least have a civil partnership, and not push our luck.
Well, I don't accept this. I don't accept it because there is a world of difference between calling someone your "partner" and calling them your "husband". "Partner" is a word that should be preserved for people you play tennis with, or work alongside in business. It doesn't come close to describing the love that I have for David, and he for me. In contrast, "husband" does. A "husband" is somebody that you cherish forever, that you would give up everything for, that you love in sickness and in health. Until the law recognises David Furnish is my husband, and not merely my partner, the law won't describe the man I know and adore.
But of course this isn't about me and David. It's about something so much greater than either of us, something that pre-dates us by centuries, and will carry on for centuries after we, and Zachary, and his children, are gone. That is the fight for equality.
Throughout history, minorities have been discriminated against without justification, on grounds of race, religion, gender, and sexuality. In some parts of the world, we have made amazing strides in combating unfair discrimination on those grounds. In most of the world, the fight is just beginning.
From the suffragettes to the race relations acts of the 20th century, Britain has led the way across the civilised world in ending unfair discrimination. The move to civil partnerships for gay couples was another, dramatic step. Wouldn't it be a huge source of national pride if we led, rather than just followed, the currents of history, and became one of the first countries in the world to say being married isn't about whether you're straight or gay, but about whether you're human?
I think it would. I think that, in this Olympic year, when the eyes of the world are upon us, we should show that we are country committed to the sacred institution of marriage, proud of our tolerant heritage, and brave enough to let lovers like David and I call each other a husband.
That is why I am proud to give my name to this independentvoices.com campaign, and why I ask that you dare to do so too.
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