Gay couples want the right to marry too
Supporters of the Equal Love campaign presented a giant wedding card for Prince William and Kate Middleton outside the gates of Buckingham Palace on Monday, 25 April 2011.
As well as wishing the royal couple "congratulations" and "a happy life together", the campaigners highlighted the ban on gay civil marriage and urged Kate and William to support the right of same-sex couples to marry in a register office. Cupcakes with Equal Love logos were handed out to tourists and passers by. Dozens of people signed the card.
Free photos of the Buckingham Palace presentation here:
These photos are free to use, without charge, but please credit: Peter Tatchell Foundation
The card read:
"Congratulations William and Kate on your Wedding Day. We wish you a happy life together. You can get married, gay people can't. We are banned by law. We ask you to support marriage equality. Equal=Love."
"As well as wishing the royal couple happiness, our card highlighted the fact that William and Kate can marry, but same-sex couples cannot. In democratic society, we should all be equal before the law. The ban on gay marriage is discrimination and should be repealed," said coordinator of Monday's 12 noon event, Peter Tatchell of the Equal Love campaign.
Mr Tatchell added:
"The public response was amazingly supportive. Everyone outside the palace expressed support for marriage equality. We didn't get a single negative reaction.
"William and Kate are a modern young couple. They have gay friends. I am sure they would not wish them to suffer discrimination. Denying gay people the right to marry is unjust and unreasonable discrimination.
"Kate and William had a choice. They could get married, or not. They chose to marry. Great. Same-sex couples don't have this choice. We are banned from marriage by law.
"We are urging the royal couple to find a way, within official protocol, to indicate their support for marriage equality. If they did this, they'd be the first royal couple to do so.
"The majority of the British public now support gay civil marriages in register offices:
"Three of the couples involved in the Equal Love legal campaign were present outside Buckingham Palace today, including Rev Sharon Ferguson and her partner Franka.
"In February, four gay couples and four heterosexual couples filed the Equal Love application in the European Court of Human Rights, seeking to overturn Britain's legal prohibitions on same-sex marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships.
"Even if people disagree with the monarchy and marriage, the prohibition on gay marriage is homophobic and should be overturned. We must not let the government dictate that lesbian and gay couples cannot get married.
"Equally, we object to the way heterosexual couples are prohibited by law from having a civil partnership. Perhaps William and Kate might have preferred a civil partnership? It is wrong that they were prohibited by law from having this option.
"This event is an affirmation of our opposition to discrimination in marriage law. We want to show our support for the right of everyone to be able to choose whether or not to get married," said Mr Tatchell.
Today's celebration was organised by the Equal Love campaign, which seeks to overturn the twin bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships: www.equallove.org.uk
It is supported by the LGBTI human rights group OutRage! www.outrage.org.uk and the Peter Tatchell Foundation www.petertatchellfoundation.org
More background info on the issue
Peter Tatchell writes:
"We wish William and Kate every happiness. May they have a joyful marriage and a wonderful married life together.
"The royal couple are lucky. They have the option to get married. Gay couples don't have this option. They are barred by law from marriage.
"We urge Kate and William to support marriage equality: the right of same-sex couples to get married. Their support would mean a lot. They take for granted the right to marry. Marriage is something that many lesbian and gay couples want but cannot have.
"Gay marriage is a simple issue of respect, equality and fairness. In a democracy, we should all be equal before the law. This means an equal right to marry, regardless of sexual orientation.
"Gay couples are allowed civil partnerships. But this is not equality. They cannot get married in a register office like their heterosexual family and friends. This is discrimination and discrimination is wrong.
"There would be uproar if the government banned Jewish people from marriage and offered them civil partnerships instead. We would call it an anti-Semitic law; something we would expect in Nazi Germany not democratic Britain. Well, Jews are not banned from marriage but gay people are.
"The ban on gay civil marriages is opposed by nearly two-thirds of the British people, according to an opinion poll by Populous in June 2009. The poll found that 61% of the public believe that: "Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships." Only 33% disagreed.
"A new poll taken today would almost certainly register even more public support for marriage equality - and for the right of heterosexual couples to have a civil partnership, from which they are banned.
"On 2 February this year, eight couples - four gay and four heterosexual - filed a joint legal application to the European Court of Human Rights, to overturn the twin bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships. Their applications are sponsored by the Equal Love campaign - www.equallove.org.uk - which seeks to end sexual orientation discrimination in both civil marriage and civil partnership law. It is supported by the Peter Tatchell Foundation and the LGBTI campaign group OutRage!," said Mr Tatchell