It's a common refrain of politicians (and some lobby groups) to say that while they are not against equal civil marriage, it is not clear how many gay people actually want it.
A poll by pinknews.co.uk - conducted over two days with almost 800 responses – shows otherwise. LGBT people demand marriage equality.
They see Argentina, Mexico City and other countries in Europe making the move and question why the UK – a supposed world leader on LGBT rights – hasn't yet got that far.
PinkNews.co.uk has said time and again that civil partnerships were an excellent and much-needed addition to UK law, giving gay couples access to the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples, plus protection and dignity. However, our readers don't believe in 'separate but equal'.
Things are changing fast and they need to. We have a Tory-led government which has said it will consider the case for equal marriage, while the majority (if not all) of the Labour leadership contenders support changing the law. Next month, the Liberal Democrat party is expected to pass a motion cementing its pro-gay marriage policy.
Stonewall's excellent work on persuading politicians to support religious civil partnerships is to be commended but liberal faith groups such as the Quakers and the Metropolitan Community Church now wish to carry out marriages. They see a difference between the two, as do the gay couples who have no interest in faith and want a civil marriage.
Only five of the 786 people who answered the survey preferred faiths being given the option of holding civil partnerships over marriage. Denying rights to a minority because a small number within it disagree is not a reason for not passing legislation.
Another issue, which affects smaller numbers of people, is the cruelty of forcing trans men and women to divorce their partners in order to be legally recognised in their new gender. A country which values marriage should never allow this to happen.
Our poll did not, for reasons of time, ask why respondents want gay marriage. But here are some past remarks from our readers:
"Relegating an entire group of people to a different category in order to get similar rights is nothing more than morally unjust and legal segregation under a different name. It is wrong."
"Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The UK government has failed to provide a rational basis for singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage licence."
"To ban gay marriage in a modern society goes against the British ideas of fair play and equality."
"Marriage is the ultimate equality issue for lesbian and gay people. It makes us equally valued people, and our sexuality equal too."
Those who argue that "traditional marriage" must be protected won't be dealt with in this column. Instead, we urge them to set their sights on banning divorce.
But those who say that gay people do not want to marry are wrong. As for those who argue that there's no difference in law; that may be true. But words matter. For those who want their relationships recognised in law, marriage is the gold standard.
Article: 12th August 2010 www.pinknews.co.uk
Read more about gay parenting options at www.prideangel.com