Not an op-ed, but the simple, moving speech given by the out gay Conservative MP for Milton Keynes South, Iain Stewart, during the debate on the marriage equality bill in the British House of Commons . Sometimes, less is indeed more. From Hansard, unedited.
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.
My hon. Friend the Member for South West Bedfordshire (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.