Prime Minister David Cameron today said he was “proud” to have brought in legislation which will allow same-sex marriages in England and Wales from next summer.
• David Cameron ‘proud’ of introducing same-sex marriage legislation for England and Wales from next summer
• Writing in PinkNews, Mr Cameron says “I don’t want to see people’s love divided by law”
• Legislation faced fierce opposition from Tory backbenchers and some religious groups
The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act received royal assent from the Queen yesterday after a bruising passage through Parliament which saw stiff opposition from many Conservative backbenchers and some religious groups.
Writing in PinkNews, Mr Cameron said he was pleased that “we have had the courage to change”, adding that he backs gay marriage because “I don’t want to see people’s love divided by law”.
“I am proud that we have made same-sex marriage happen,” said the PM. “I am delighted that the love two people have for each other - and the commitment they want to make - can now be recognised as equal. I have backed this reform because I believe in commitment, responsibility and family. I don’t want to see people’s love divided by law.
“Making marriage available to everyone says so much about the society that we are and the society that we want to live in - one which respects individuals regardless of their sexuality.
“If a group is told again and again that they are less valuable, over time they may start to believe it. In addition to the personal damage that this can cause, it inhibits the potential of a nation. For this reason too, I am pleased that we have had the courage to change.”
Mr Cameron promised he would not be “complacent” about remaining issues relating to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
“There are subjects we must continue to tackle: not least taking a zero tolerance approach to homophobic bullying, and caring for elderly members of the LGBT community,” he said. “Rest assured, this Government will work tirelessly to make sure this happens.”
Mr Cameron used a Q&A with PinkNews readers in 2010 to say he was “open” to changing the law on gay marriage.
Benjamin Cohen, the founder of the Out4Marriage campaign, said: “David Cameron deserves huge credit for his steadfast commitment to gay equality and for driving same-sex marriage into law.
“Since his first speech as Conservative Party leader he has demonstrated that he believes that same-sex relationships should be considered as valid as opposite-sex relationships. On PinkNews, he promised to consider the case for same-sex marriage, while the leadership of the Labour Party argued that civil partnerships were enough. This has meant that almost uniquely in the world, same-sex marriage was proposed by a Conservative prime minister, not a backbencher.”
Mr Cohen said Scotland was now “likely” to pass same-sex marriage legislation, and urged politicians in Northern Ireland to follow Mr Cameron’s lead to ensure that gay weddings are permitted across the UK.