Lib Dem MP Steve Gilbert calls for progress on gay marriage

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Liberal Democrat MP Steve Gilbert has called for progress on UK marriage equality, saying he hopes legislation can be introduced by 2015.

The openly gay MP said in the House of Commons this week that while parliament obtaining a civil partnership licence was “groundbreaking”, allowing gay couples to wed would be more so.

He said: “It was a groundbreaking moment when parliament itself was granted a licence to hold civil partnerships and when [Labour MP] Chris Bryant and his partner were the first to benefit from that.

“However, it would have been much more groundbreaking for this house to enable full equal marriage for same-sex couples across the country – not necessarily a religious tie, unless that is what individuals and their faith groups choose, but crucially the same status and legal position as that of heterosexual married couples.”

Mr Gilbert added: “I am delighted that Stonewall now supports this aim, and I hope that the deputy leader of the house will be able to mention the steps that the government are taking to investigate it as an option and perhaps to introduce legislation before the end of this parliament.”

Government equality minister Lynne Featherstone met with a number of gay rights advocates in the summer to discuss the next steps for civil partnerships legislation.

During the election campaign, the Liberal Democrats announced support for allowing gay marriages and straight civil partnerships.

Prime minister David Cameron said he would “consider the case” for gay marriage, although the Tories say they will look at how faiths can be given the optional right to officiate civil partnership ceremonies.

The current push for marriage equality is being driven by veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

His Equal Love campaign will see eight gay and straight couples approach the European Court of Human Rights early next year.