London Pride 2014 had a bigger turn out than ever before with tens of thousands of people joining the vibrant parade. This display of joy within an inclusive community of homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual and transgender individuals demonstrates the great advances being made towards equal rights for all, no matter what your sexuality. However this fight is far from over.
As married couples are left in a state of uncertainty in Indianapolis as appeals on a gay marriage ban continue, and civil partnerships remain a same-sex only phenomenon, the equality sought by many is far off. Equal rights for all regardless of their sexuality may seem obvious to most as if you love someone your sexuality shouldn't be a factor, but if we're really discussing equal rights... What's love got to do with it?
I agree marriage should not be taken lightly, in an ideal world every couple that gets married should be doing it because they have found their soul mate and life without them is unimaginable. However every day heterosexual couples get married for reasons other than this societal concept of love. They marry because she's having a baby, or his parents are nice and rich, or simply because it's the done thing! Why is it that same-sex couples are held to an elevated standard? If you truly believe in equal rights, same-sex couples should be allowed to be married and miserable too.
Marriage in the 21st Century is more than a symbol of love and partnership though, there are legal and financial benefits also. These may not be the romantic connotations we associate with this institution, but for same-sex couples who are married instead of having a civil partnership, many face legal issues when their unity is not universally recognised. In America where same-sex marriage is only legalised in some states, its validity can change depending on location. Currently in Indianapolis an appeal over U.S. District Judge Richard Young's ruling that a same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional means couples living in Indiana face difficulties as the validity of their union is left in limbo. This not only devalues same-sex couples' ability to get legally married, it also calls into question rights such as receiving pension benefits, filing tax returns together, having medical privileges regarding life and death decisions and being named as a spouse on a death certificate. All these are practical, legal reasons that marriage deemed legal one day, should remain legal until the couple wish to change this.
Evidently a legal judgement must be made on a global scale whether legal marriage in one state or country is universally legal. At the other end of the spectrum though are couples of opposite sex who wish to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage, perhaps they feel it has religious overtones or they are disillusioned with the institution of antiquated, sexist ideas on man and wife, but still want a legal document defining their partnership. It seems bizarre that there is opposition to what seems a minor change in the law. Supposedly though allowing a man and a woman to enter into a civil partnership would undermine marriage.
Both marriage and civil partnership allow legal recognition of a unity between two people and social recognition of their commitment and love for each other. If the church and government want to argue that heterosexual civil partnerships would undermine marriage, the same argument that held up the legalisation of same-sex marriage, does this not directly contradict their other message that equality is one of the most important rights we as a society should possess? Equality works in every way; race, religion, sexuality and gender should have no bearing on it.
This is why we must question where love comes into it. Equality does not depend on love, equality depends on morality and justice. In the future there will hopefully be no same-sex marriage, there will just be marriage, as its definition will be universal. There will equally only be civil partnerships, between two men, two women, a man and a woman, it won't matter. We must strive for equality, alongside the civil rights movement and the feminist movement. Everyone is pushing for the same goal, it will just take time and perseverance to reach that on all levels.