The UK parliament has voted hugely in favour of making Gay Marriage a legal reality (we are going green on the map above! Whoop whoop!) Why is this a significant step and what difference does it make?
Well, around the world we 'enlightened westerners' criticise other societies that suppress the rights of religious groups, women, 'lesser' castes and the elderly. These other societies are seen as less evolved and in many instances warrant trade embargoes and military interventions for the actions of their leaders. We act as the wise, learned and fair older brother imparting the zen wisdom of peace and democracy, then strong arming weaker countries into following our lead. This wouldn't seem so bad but for the fact that we harboured a closet brimming with skeletons of our own. How could we espouse international equality and the rights of humankind when a whole sect of British people, by virtue of their sexuality, were being legally regarded as 'lesser citizens'? Of course the Gay's of the UK didn't fear for their lives as Ugandan Gays might, they didn't face endemic political homophobia as the American Gays do, but nevertheless, on paper, we were 'less'. Not equal.
I heard someone say that the gay desire for equal rights was 'moving too fast' and that civil ceremonies should be 'good enough for now'. This thinking is why America is still deeply mired in cultural racism and why women all over the world earn less than men. The push for absolute equality must keep moving or it will stall, lose momentum and fail.
To many, this was never about gays getting married in churches or civil ceremonies being 'good enough for now'. This was a battle to prove that Britain was a forward thinking democracy that can back up it's international voice with principle.
Now, the time has come to export sexual equality to the world until, in the words of Obama:-
'Our Gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law'.