Yvette Cooper: It was our job in Parliament to make equal marriage about joy

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has paid tribute to her political counterparts after being named Politician of the Year at last night’s PinkNews Awards.

The senior Labour MP took home the joint title along with Baroness Stowell, the Conservative peer who earlier this year was in charge of guiding the same-sex marriage act through the House of Lords.

Ms Cooper served as Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities until this month’s reshuffle by Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Paying tribute to Maria Miler, Culture Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, who was at the PinkNews Awards along with Baroness Tina Stowell, Ms Cooper said: “I’m sure that Tina will agree, there were so many people who were involved in this from all different parties, making sure the legislation could happen. I think that I was certainly accused and, I think Maria [Miller] was as well, of only showing so much enthusiasm for this legislation because we were angling for wedding invitations! I can say that this is not true! However, I really have a nice hat. Therefore, any offers are welcome.”

Ms Cooper’s husband, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, was also at the PinkNews Awards. Ms Cooper mentioned a previous conversation with Labour MP Meg Munn, who contributed to the legalisation of civil partnerships in 2004. Ms Munn had told Ms Cooper that it had been the happiest piece of legislation she’d ever been involved with. “And that really stuck with me,” Ms Cooper continued: “because when a lot of people were saying ‘Oh, this was controversial. People were under pressure’. You know, all these arguments about it, and so on, actually this was always about equality and it was always about joy.”

Ms Cooper added: “It was our job in Parliament to try and make it about joy and make [equal marriage] something to celebrate. I hope we did that in the debate. And it is a tribute to so many people, including those who did face a lot of personal pressure, that they carried on campaigning; standing up for the right thing; and could make this possible.”

Along with thanking PinkNews, Ms Cooper said she was eager to see the first same-sex weddings take place sooner rather than latter: the government has said by the summer of 2014. “We still want to get the legislation in place,” Ms cooped added: “France managed it within a month.”

The Labour MP warned that the fight for LGBT equality did not rest with equal marriage but by also “tackling homophobic behaviour in schools and making sure that ministers meet LGBT activists in Russia if they’re going to the Olympics.” She concluded that politicians needed to keep up the pressure and make the most of the cross-party work that’s been achieved on equality.”We believe in equality and we believe in joy,” she said.

Judges in the Politician of the Year category included:

Iain Dale, Presenter LBC

Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green

Tom Copley, London Assembly Member (Labour London wide)

Baroness Olly Grender

Anna Doble, Head of Online, Channel 4

Paris Lees, Columnist GT (Gay Times), Diva and the Independent

Simon Topham, Managing Director GT and Diva

Donna Halkyard, Head of Diversity, BAE Systems (Business network award)

Tom French, the Scottish Equality Network

Corinne Pinfold, former reporter, PinkNews, policy officer, School Leader Support Service

The PinkNews Awards event was generously supported by:-
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