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My Lords, there is an African proverb which says:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.
We are coming to the end of a very long legislative journey. It began in 2002 when my noble friend Lord Lester drafted the first civil partnership legislation, which was withdrawn but was then swiftly taken up and adopted by the then Labour Government, for which they deserve enormous credit. It continued with my right honourable friend in another place, Nick Clegg, in early 2010 stating his position that there should be equal marriage. He was closely and swiftly followed by David Cameron, who deserves enormous credit. My redoubtable colleague, Lynne Featherstone, notwithstanding the fact that this was not in the coalition agreement, announced in 2011 that there would be a consultation on equal marriage and civil partnership. It is as a result of all that work that we have arrived at the situation we are in now.
It was a joyous day on
There has been one very recent discordant note, from the House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage, issued on
However, I hope that the bishops will understand and respect that even in these statutory instruments that same spirit of recognition of their position remains, particularly in the recognition of military chapels and on shared premises. I hope that the individual members of churches who support same-sex marriages can look forward to a point when they can have a dialogue with those members who do not yet formally support them. The noble Lord, Lord Alli is right. The legislation for those of us who have the great luck to live in this country means a tremendous amount. All over the world our friends and colleagues who are gay face the most horrible oppression and intimidation. The church, as with other organisations, has a role to play in making those people’s lives safe.