Monday, 12 January 2015

50 Years of Wrong Corrected by Two "I do's"

This article originally appeared in B-24/7, December 10 2014

The first civil partnership conversion ceremonies have taken place in England and Wales today. Bristol writer Darryl W Bullock was among the first to convert his civil partnership into a marriage. 

At the age of 50 I’m finally allowed to get married. 

It has taken me half a century to reach the day that most of us enjoy in our twenties or thirties: a day that, growing up, I believed I would never see. Today I, a man, married another man. 

None of your mimsy blessings (I’ve already had one of those), nor your second-rate Civil Partnerships (two of those, with a dissolution in the middle); today I am – for the very first time in my life, equal to you. 

Finally, after years of protesting and campaigning for the right to be allowed the same matrimonial status as everyone else in this country, I can stand before a registrar, in front of my family and friends, and officially become someone’s husband. 

It’s been a hard-won battle to get here: strenuous lobbying by the moral minority almost scuppered the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill as it passed through Parliament in 2013 but, thankfully, common sense - and a recognition that yes, actually, gay people do deserve to be treated in exactly the same way as everyone else in the eyes of the law - prevailed. 

We've had 'same-sex marriage in Britain since the end of March, but it has taken the Government nine months to work out how to couples who are already in a Civil Partnership can convert that relationship into a fully-fledged marriage. 

Which is how Niall and I ended up returning to the Bristol Register Office suited, showered and shaved(ish), six years and four days after we were last there, to correct what a friend of mine refers to as an 'administrative error'. 

A short ceremony, little more than exchanging one document for another, four pound coins pressed into the palm of the registrar (if you upgrade before December 9, 2015 the basic ceremony is free; you still have to pay for the marriage certificate), a few photos and it was all over. 

Five decades of injustice corrected with two simple "I do's" spoken in front of a few friends. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to find the words to explain how empowering and important those two words are – or that brief ceremony was - to me. 

I’m equal. Finally. And that is something to celebrate. 

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