hand fight for marriage equality in the UK
recently submitted written testimony to the UK Parliament to support
the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which would expand on protections
the LGBT community in Britain received in 2004 with the advent
of civil partnerships.
friends might be puzzled about the apparent turnaround in my thinking
because I originally thought marriage was an unnecessary
step. Now, however, I believe that civil partnerships provide
us only with a token gesture, not true equality.
is a reason that I feel so strongly about the need for a public
affirmation of loving relationships between same-sex couples.
years ago my long-term life partner was diagnosed with lung cancer.
He had just celebrated his fortieth birthday, and I was thirty
two. We led a simple life, safe and secure in each others
company and had plans to go into business together.
future was not to be.
the four months between diagnosis and Roberts death, I was
his sole caregiver. We shared a sad, exhausting and poignant time,
but I am thankful I was able to be there for him.
that time I worked in health care and my colleagues were the consultants
who treated my partners cancer. As a result, I was given
access to information about his case and was able to make decisions
for him and look after him in our home during the last week of
his life. As we did not have the protections offered by civil
partnership or marriage, if his family had wanted him to be in
the hospital that is where he would have died.
he died, in the midst of all my grief, it quickly became apparent
that I had no rights and protections. Our relationship was simply
viewed by his family as a firm friendship between two men.
was able to stand close to his coffin at his funeral which
was very important to me. But I was asked to collect my possessions
and a few of Roberts things that the family agreed I might
have. Within a few weeks, it was expected I would relocate. As
I recently had inherited my grandmothers house, I was lucky
I had a home to go to.
for us, his family did not want to be involved in these decisions,
so I was able to take Robert home. If these doctors and nurses
had not known me personally, he and I would have missed out on
the most important journey we were to make, caring for each other,
as we moved towards his death together.
effect of this experience was to make me feel alienated from the
society in which I lived, because I was not afforded the same
rights as other heterosexual couples.
course, my experience is not unique amongst gay and lesbian couples.
is why civil partnerships, which were allowed under UK law in
2004, were a vital first step to provide equal protection under
the law. If we had been civil partners, or married, those rights
would have been available to us without my health-care connections.
Gay and lesbian couples who enter civil partnerships are now protected
in important legal areas, such as housing, finances and much more.
while such partnerships give security, they do not provide a couple
with the opportunity to make a public declaration of their love,
similar to heterosexual couples. In my mind, marriage confers
something more than two people sharing the expenses of a home.
People who really knew my partner and me understood the depth
of our love and commitment. It was more than a simple housing
who are able to get married will be able to publicly celebrate
and declare their love and commitment, while still having the
benefit of the legal protections of civil partnerships. Yes, it
is about protection, but it also is about equality in love
a universal need.
I write, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has reached the
report stage before final reading and submission to the House
of Lords. My heart and mind trust that my country will ultimately
pass this bill so that all couples may look forward to a time
where loving relationships are equally recognised under the law
and by society.
Steven Warren is a London-based author, psychotherapist and counsellor,
specialising in loss, transition and change. Steven is currently
writing a book on The Power of Caring. This article
is based on testimony submitted to the House of Commons. firstname.lastname@example.org
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