Congratulations to England & Wales celebrating marriage

 

UK Gay Romance sends its congratulations to everyone who can now marry their partners, a long and happy marriage to those who tied the knot last night and have a fabulous wedding to everyone having a ceremony today.

The Rainbow flag flies over Whitehall for the first time.

Chris Jepson’s amazing photo at G-A-Y Heaven.

Because we can’t forget the ladies.

Because we do.

From the BBC article Peter Tatchell (left) was chief witness at Peter McGraith and David Cabreza’s wedding in Islington

What a lovely couple! In Brighton, Andrew Wale and Neil Allard were among the first gay couples to get married after midnight

Says it all

Well done Ben & Jerry’s.

Because you’ve got to have kissing (in Camden).

Authors – we have got to get this day into our books.

“I now pronounce you husband and husband” by T.J. Masters

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It’s here at last. After years of hoping campaigning and struggling, marriage equality is upon us. Just after midnight tonight on Saturday 29th March 2014 the first same-sex couples will tie the knot and across the England and Wales we will celebrate. I use the phrase ‘marriage equality’ because that’s what it is. It’s not ‘gay marriage’ whatever that might look like.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 was passed by the UK government in July 2013 and came into force in England and Wales on the 13th March 2014 and at that point same sex marriages outside of UK jurisdiction became recognised for those couples residing here.

Scottish legislation was passed in February 2014 with the first ceremonies expected in the Autumn 2014.

The Northern Ireland Executive has not bought any such legislation and same-sex marriages from beyond its borders will be treated as Civil Partnerships

Today I am proud to have been born in a country that now sees these rights as equal for all people. Yes it’s true that for nine years now we have had the option of Civil Partnerships. I am convinced that without the history of Civil Partnerships we would not have achieved marriage equality so easily. Like so many other cultural shifts there was great resistance to this non-religious version of marriage but now, Civil Partnerships take place at the rate of 6-7000 every year and are pretty equally divided between men and women.

The civil partnership laws were a huge step change in December 2005. My partner and I had already been together for over twenty five years when we had our Civil Partnership ceremony. That day is forever etched in our memories as one of the best of our lives together. We were supported by family, friends, work colleagues and their children who all saw it as a completely natural thing for us to be doing

The world didn’t come to an end. We were not struck down by lightning. But of course marriage was still closed to us and in that respect civil partnership remained as something of a consolation prize for those of us who didn’t quiet qualify for the real thing.

Let’s be clear. Marriage in this country has always been a legal construct. Some groups still argue that it is a religious one but it is not. Currently some 39% of heterosexual marriages end in divorce. Will the gays be any better at it? Probably not, but who is qualified to say that we should not have the same opportunity to succeed or fail.

Some have argued that marriage is a child-centric state. That argument does not hold water either. During my thirty four years as a school teacher I was only to aware of the vast numbers of our young people who did not live in a two parent home

Nor does the biological argument about procreation stand up. Marriage has never been necessary for breeding.

Changing any law in the UK is a complex process, not taken lightly, nor should it be. This new Act corrects many inequalities, but in order to work effectively it had to include a whole raft of minor corrections to existing marriage law. These include allowing night time marriages for the first time. It also repeals the existing sodomy laws and now ensures that if a member of the royal family were to wed his same sex partner, that person would never be forced to take the title of Queen. I’m sure that one caused a few laughs among the legal draughtsmen.

IDAHO

I will not deal here with religious opposition but the law allows church groups to abstain from recognising same sex marriage without fear of any legal backlash.

Now it just remains for the first vows to be exchanged and the cakes to be cut. My congratulations to all those couples who will take the plunge this weekend.

My final wistful thought is a wish for a future time when so called gay marriages are no longer news-worthy. We are a nation which has embraced so many cultural changes and we are no strangers to creating new traditions. Let’s waive our flags and sing our anthems today. When the fuss has died down let us look to the future when attitudes are truly changed and we accept that we never really did alter the institution of marriage we just extended the joy to everyone.

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T.J. Masters is a fifty-six-year-old author and life coach living in Hertfordshire just to the north of London, England. T.J. has shared thirty years of suburban life with his civil partner Ian, and they enjoy the love and support of T.J’s large Irish family who all live nearby. In 2009 T.J. took early retirement from a thirty-three-year school teaching career and decided to follow a new path. After qualifying as a life coach, T.J. found that he was coaching a couple of authors who were going through the process of giving birth to the book which “had always been inside them.” This rekindled T.J’s long-held desire to write and get published.

With a lifelong passion for books, learning, and the sharing of knowledge, T.J. woke up to the realization that he had stories to tell, books to write, and less than half a lifetime left to do it in. As for the kind of books he is writing… well, let’s just say that he decided to channel over thirty years of experience in the gay BDSM lifestyle into a genre where it would be most appreciated!

Alongside this passion for books and writing, T.J. also found an outlet for his inner geek and has become a great advocate for social media in various forms. Blogging has become a great outlet for T.J’s many interests including the writerly ones. The author has a website where he blogs regularly and he loves to interact with his readers and followers at http://www.tjmasters.com.

 

A Perspective on Equal Marriage by Greg Hogben

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“I don’t know what the big deal is. If gay people want to fight for the right to get married, it’s up to them. If I ever meet a guy I want to stay with for the rest of my life, I don’t need a piece of paper to make our relationship official.  I’m never having kids, so what does it matter?”  — Greg, Age 18

I always knew I was gay. There wasn’t really any question about it.  But I grew up in England under Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government and its implementation of Section 28, a law that forbade addressing or even mentioning homosexuality in schools.  Being gay wasn’t to be discussed, much less contemplated as a social structure with inherent value.  It simply never occurred to me that the idea of a “happily ever after” might actually apply to gay couples.

When I hit voting age, I lived in that bubble of youth in which the ramifications of social policies and laws meant far less than reveling in my new-found freedom.  Like many 18-year-olds, I felt a detachment from politics and social change.  I was out to my friends and family, but didn’t feel compelled to get involved in political discussions or debates to win the hearts and minds of people who didn’t agree with my “lifestyle.”  In my youthful defiance, their opinions made no difference to how I lived my life.  And like most young people, I had no reason to think about the legal rights and responsibilities attendant to most relationships, like tax benefits, adoption requirements, hospital visitation rights, or full equality under the law.

And whether it was through social conditioning, self-protection, or just resignation, I had already come to terms with the idea that life wasn’t going to work out the same for me as it did for my straight friends.  Even if I was in a loving, committed relationship, it would never be given the same acceptance as theirs.  Things weren’t equal and things were never going to change.

“I think it’s great that the Labour government pushed through civil partnerships. It’s as good as marriage and gives pretty much all the same benefits. We got what we wanted. We are protected under the law. Do we really need the ‘married’ title?”   – Greg, Age 29

When Tony Blair’s Labour government passed civil partnerships in 2004, it was more than I ever dared dream would happen.  Gay relationships were given proper legal status under the law, and I knew that the government and church would never agree on ‘marriage,’ so this was the next best thing.

Though there were still some differences between the rights afforded to civil partnerships and married couples, I didn’t see the point in raising a fuss.  I’m not religious, so recognition of my relationship in a church wasn’t an issue for me. All I wanted was protection under the law.  My American partner lived in a country whose federal government gave our relationship no recognition at all, so I was proud of the advances England had made.

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“The notion of ‘separate but equal’ just doesn’t cut it.”  – Greg, Age 37

Then a funny thing happened.  Marriage equality came to parts of America.  My partner became my husband in a full-fledged marriage licensed by the District of Columbia.  It wasn’t recognized by the federal government at the time, but the title and status were more than we could have obtained in England.  Strangely enough, “marriage” didn’t really matter to me until I was married.

Our American marriage would be recognized as a civil partnership in England, but there was no legitimate reason for the distinction.  My marriage is every bit as valid, enduring, and valuable as any other.  And in one of the more ironic twists in the issue, it was a Conservative government that took up the cause.  David Cameron’s push for marriage equality turned Section 28’s denial on its head — and in doing so, has made England a more open, affirming country.

The reputation of my motherland being a stuffy, overly traditional power was signed away by an 87-year-old monarch who has reigned for sixty years.  And the implications aren’t limited to England.  As head of the Commonwealth, the Queen’s endorsement of marriage equality will influence this debate in countless countries around the world.  Her royal assent sends a powerful message in support of the principles of fairness and equality.  As time passes and more and more people see that the sky hasn’t fallen and straight marriage has not collapsed because my husband and I got married, other countries will follow suit.

With the enactment of marriage equality in England, and with the recent Supreme Court decisions overturning Section 3 of DOMA and Proposition 8 in America, the arc of history is gainfully in our favor.  Though the pace of change has been astonishing, our evolution isn’t complete, and won’t be until all couples have the same rights around the world.  But I take great pride in the progress we’ve made.

What brings me the most happiness is there will never be another generation of British kids that will be battered into a state of mind that their happily-ever-after is unattainable. They won’t have to convince themselves, like I did, that it will never happen. They will never have to settle for compromise. And they will never have to fight a government who refuses to grant them the equality they deserve.

Same sex marriage is only applicable in England and Wales. Scotland is currently conducting its own campaign for equal marriage. Please take time to watch this video from The Equality Network.

 

Greg’s Bio.

Greg Hogben was born and raised on the south coast of England where he spent his school days learning how to get into trouble. But more importantly, he learned how to tell stories to get out of it. Greg is a huge fan of British humor and counts Stephen Fry and Jennifer Saunders among his comedy gods. You can contact Greg at greghogben@gmail.com.

Greg’s Huffington Post blogs can be found here.

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The British Devil.
British national Greg Stephens knew there would be challenges in his new relationship with handsome American Navy officer Danny Taylor: long distance; Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; the Defense of Marriage Act; US immigration….

But he didn’t anticipate his greatest obstacle: Danny’s born-again Christian mother, Vivien. A secretary in a small-town Southern Baptist church in Texas, she bristles at Greg’s secular beliefs. Through passive-aggressive manipulation, subtle deceit, or outright battle, Vivien resolves to banish Greg and return Danny to the fold, come hell or high water. Greg’s hold on Danny’s heart is pitted against Vivien’s crusade for Danny’s soul.

All the while, Greg devotes himself to keeping Danny happy while negotiating the cultural differences of his life in America. Danny’s new career as a lawyer takes them from his native Texas to New York. But with Vivien testing Greg’s stiff upper lip at every turn, something has to give.

Link

UKGayRomance and Dreamspinner Press kick off our first giveaway in honour of a subject dear to our heart, the legalisation of same sex marriage in England and Wales.

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It’s summertime, why don’t you travel light this summer with a shiny, new Kindle Paperwhite to hold your favourite books.

Tell us your favourite gay romance book set in the UK in the comments here. Give us the title, author and why you love it. Each book rec = one entry for the Kindle.

Giveaway closes 23:59 (GMT), 24th July 2013.

Check out our Facebook and Twitter for more chances to win.