I welcome the opportunity and the privilege of taking part in this important debate. I often recall the day a few years ago when I finally plucked up the courage to tell my parents that I was gay. I began the conversation with the line, “Mum, you know I’m never going to be able to marry.” I used that form of words as a way of broaching an awkward conversation and I did not really think much about it at the time, but I often reflect on those words and it makes me very sad that for so long that was a factually correct statement.
I look at the marriage that my parents have—45 years and going strong—and I aspire to the same thing. I do not have someone at the minute, but if I do, I want to cherish that person, love them, support them. It is not just about a ceremony; it is about being with them for the rest of a life, in good times and bad, richer or poorer, sickness and health. That can apply as much to me as to a straight couple. I do not understand why some people feel threatened that allowing me to have that in any way diminishes what a heterosexual couple has. I want the same things.
My hon. Friend Andrew Selous was absolutely right when he said that we do not talk enough about helping relationships, strengthening them, rewarding people for doing the right thing. We should. But stopping gay people marrying is not part of that. It will not diminish that.
I very much welcome the Bill. There are many different interpretations of marriage. We have heard them discussed today. Some people do not wish divorcees to remarry. Others are perfectly comfortable with it. I am no theological expert, but the concept of marriage has evolved over time. It is perfectly possible to respect those who take a traditional view of marriage. I do not agree with it, but I utterly respect those who sincerely hold that view. It is surely possible both to respect that and to allow others to enjoy the benefits of marriage. Other countries have managed it perfectly well—Spain, Canada and many other countries. It is surely not beyond our wit and wisdom to devise that in law in this country. That is why I welcome the Bill and, in a little while, I will go through the Aye Lobby with pride.