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Linda and Carol’s story: GSN’s marriage appeal

Linda Wilkinson writes why marriage equality is so important for her, her partner Carol and her family and explains how you can help
Tony’s wife Maggie, Tony, Linda and Carol watching the Queen’s jubilee boat pageant on the Thames

Today, as Britain enjoys an extra day’s public holiday for the Queen’s jubilee, Gay Star News is appealing for people to spend less than five minutes of their additional free time taking part in the UK government’s consultation on same-sex marriage.

The consultation is already complete in Scotland and results are expected soon. But there is still a little over a week to have your say on the proposals for gay marriage in England and Wales – and with so many religious homophobes taking part so far, it is vital that you do if you care about LGBT equality.

Linda Wilkinson is one half of the first lesbian couple to sign the London partnership register (with her partner Carol) – an important milestone in the struggle for marriage equality. In this moving piece, she explains why the consultation is so important to them.

She starts her story on the Thames where her family watched the Queen’s jubilee boat pageant on Sunday (3 June):

What a weekend, ok the weather could have been a bit kinder, but this is England. We took my brother Tony and our sister-in-law Maggie on the Thames pageant to wave at Betty England. Tony was 70 earlier this year and Carol and I thought it would be a great present.

In truth since the first steps towards us being equal in the eyes of the legal system our relationship has been much easier. Tony was born during World War II and although a really great bloke, he found our relationship a challenge at first, simply because he had no reference points.

Carol and I got together back in 1985 when it was a very different world.

As you guys know since then we’ve had to fight against Clause 28 (a British anti-gay censorship law) and for the equal age of consent. Then came the ability to have a civil partnership. Yet, we are still not equal.

This has always stuck in all of our throats – equal, but not quite.

CP is seen as inferior. We don’t get divorced, our contracts are simply dissolved, like sugar in a cup of tea. It may seem trivial, but the law and people’s perceptions all hinge around words.

Why create a separate, but almost equal hierarchy, unless you intend one day to reverse it? Make no mistake that could happen.

When British Prime Minister David Cameron decided that our right to a full marriage in the eyes of civil society had to be delayed because Tory back benchers were all of a flutter after mid-term election blues, it showed how tenuous our grasp on equality might be. Yet again we were the flotsam and jetsam of society, the people to be used, or denied at will.

Every age has its fight, this is ours. The doors are seemingly open to us. The government, despite its cold feet, is willing to grant us rights to full civil marriage for the first time.

Religions of all flavours are their own worst enemy. They bang the drum repeatedly that by having an equal marriage we are undermining society. What undermines society is intolerance and hatred, the traits they have exhibited so well in this debate. Religion has nothing to do with this bill, it is purely civil. People are dying all over the world for being gay. We can do no better to support them than by being a shining example of how the world can be.

What do we need to do to achieve this?

There is a simple consultative form that the government has put online, gathering the views of society on the subject of gay marriage, it takes less than five minutes to fill in. You can do it, as we did, lying in bed with a croissant and a cup of coffee.

So on Tuesday morning, have your breakfast, fill in the form. We only have two weeks to convince those who would have us burn in hell that we do care about the kind of society in which we live.

The Queen and her Prince Charming have had many loving, and legal years as have my brother and sister-in-law. What the law gave to them, it by rights must give us.

As for our wedding when the bill is passed, my brother will be giving me away.

(You can take part in the UK government’s consultation here.)

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