Gay Rights in the United Kingdom
I am lucky enough to come from a very accepting mother who taught my sisters and me that no matter what race, religion, or sexuality someone is, we are all just people.
My mom’s best friend, who is still her best friend to this day, is gay. As I got older, one of my dearest school friends revealed she was bisexual when we were thirteen. I didn’t really blink twice at this because, well, she was just my friend. When my mom told me that my cousin was gay, again, I just shrugged it off. Being homosexual, to me, was always just the same as being in any kind of love. I thank my mother for this fierce acceptance I feel for all people, and in particular gay people.
This is maybe why I am so bewildered with the constant back and forth in America about the legality of gay marriage. I just can’t understand how any of us should think we are entitled to determine who is allowed to be in love. With the crazy high divorce rate these days, you would think that we would celebrate a couple that wants to make their love official. We don’t think twice about a man and a woman getting married but when two men or two women or even a man and a transsexual woman want to get married, there is uproar.
Don’t we have more to do with our time then to judge who is able to benefit from marriage?
This is something the United Kingdom has got right. This year gay marriage was legalized and for many years now civil partnerships have been recognized under law. I know a lovely lesbian couple who are able to live together here as partners, one is American and the other Slovakian, because of this progressive view. They are both very much committed to each other and contribute to society here.
In the UK, it’s common to see advertisements sponsored by the government splashed on the side of buses that read “Some People Are Gay. Get Over It.” Never have I seen gay couples supported in this way by the government in my country. Because gay people are so accepted here, there are less gay slurs, less separatism, and less prejudice. Gay people are just people here. This past weekend, the Bristol Pride Festival took place and the city was a blur of gay flags and both gay and straight people celebrating the gay community here. Everyone came together as people.
The United Kingdom is the first Western country I have lived in which has made gay marriage legal. All hell hasn’t broken loose, no one has taken anything away from heterosexual marriage, and, if nothing else, gay people have been given back the rights that they deserved all along. I am hopeful that, in my lifetime, America will see 50 states that allow all of their residents to get married and, quite frankly, worry about something else. The pain I have seen my homosexual loved ones go through because they are gay in America is heartbreaking and truly unwarranted.
For me, I would be surprised if I ever do get married; I’m just not that traditional. But I would gladly give my right to marriage to one of my gay cousins or friends, because their love is just as beautiful as any love I will ever have.