Equal Marriage!


I just heard that the Equal Marriage Bill has now passed its Third Reading in the House of Lords – without a vote – and now just requires the Royal Assent to become the Equal Marriage Act, allowing couples of the same sex the right to marry.

I find this quite an amazing thing. When I came to the University of Sussex as a graduate student in 1985, Brighton was one of the most gay-friendly cities in the UK, if not the world. However, the veneer of tolerance was often very thin. Homophobic prejudice was still commonplace, and it was by no means uncommon for that to turn into violence, as I know to my own cost. The Local Government Act of 1988 included Section 28, which enshrined anti-gay attitudes in law. I would never have imagined at that time that, just 25 years later, a law would be passed allowing people of the same sex to marry. It still seems barely comprehensible that attitudes can have changed so much in the second half of my lifetime. Equality in marriage doesn’t mean equality in everything, of course, and prejudice obviously hasn’t vanished entirely, but it’s a start.

It’s probably all come a bit too late for me to get married. I think I’m destined to remain forever an ineligible bachelor,  but I hope at least I’ll get invited to quite a few weddings in the near future. There’s quite a lot of catching up to do…

10 Responses to “Equal Marriage!”

  1. It’s great news. Now Russia has some work to do…

  2. “I think I’m destined to remain forever an ineligible bachelor”

    I thought you got your degree before the bachelor/master change. 🙂

    • telescoper Says:

      “Master”. Now there’s a thought…

      • Wasn’t “master” once used as the male equivalent of “miss”?

      • i’ve just got a letter from HSBC noting that my title differs on various accounts (Mr/Dr/Prof) and demanding that i provide them with a “Marriage certificate” as proof of this change of title.

        i also received another letter from them a day earlier claiming that they didn’t believe i exist and wanting me to prove that i do.

        …needless to say i’m ignoring all their communications and trying to decide where i’d prefer to put the money – as they are clearly clueless.

      • telescoper Says:

        Just explain that you are married to your work, and that’s how you became a Professor…

      • Anton Garrett Says:


        Write them a letter in the first person declaring that you don’t exist.

  3. “I think I’m destined to remain forever an ineligible bachelor”

    In Germany, I’ve dealt twice with mixed marriages (referring to citizenship), once before I was German and married a German woman, and once after I became German and married a foreigner. In both cases, the foreign party had to produce something which translates as “certificate of marriage ability” (Ehefähigkeitszeugnis). At first, I wondered what sort of physical examination or test this might involve, but actually “certificate of marriage eligibility” (Eheerlaubniszeugnis, which actually isn’t a word, though (in German) it could be) would be better, since it turned out it is just an official document stating that one is not married in one’s home country.

  4. It is indeed great news. As a trade union official for UNISON I am proud of the work my union has done over the years to promote equality issues on all fronts, including LGBT rights.

    Your reflection on how times have changed in your lifetime (a relatively short time in terms of modernity) is interesting.

    One thing I constantly try to get across to union memebrs and activists is that social change takes time and does not happen with (forgive the crowbarred in physics term) a Big Bang.

    Social change happens gradually over a period of time, with a series of small victories.

    If you will allow me a further attempt to crowbar in some physics, it’s right and proper progressives have the objective of achieving a phase transition such as equal marriage, but we need to remember it takes time to turn liquid water at room temperature to steam at over 100’C. And such is the same with social change – keep turning up the heat, but remember it takes time to get to boiling point.

    And finally to ask a proper cosmology question: what is your opinion on the Leonard Susskind series of Youtube lectures on cosmology?

    As graduate engineer who left engineering behind 13 years ago I’ve found his approach to teaching physic to to people who have a bit of “math” brilliant. I’ve watched the first three cosmology lectures and I’ve found his ability to take me in quite deep using just some basic calculus brilliant.

    What’s your views on his approach? Am an interested lay person who is after a professional perspective.

  5. You might be interested in the story of my good friend Sam who now lives in Connecticut with his husband Gary. They became poster boys for the anti DoMA campaign and even though that was successful, are still fighting for immigration reform so that Sam can be allowed to remain in the US. A romantic story, full of hardship: http://www.uglybirdhouse.net/ http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/news/politics/bi-national-same-sex-couples-fight-for-rights#.UeZXNo3VDSg

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