New Times,
New Thinking.

10 December 2013

Equal marriage: The law finally catches up with love

Of course I'm delighted, says Stella Duffy, but it is painful that it has come too late for those many thousands of gay couples denied this equality in the past.

By Stella Duffy

I will be able to marry my partner after 29 March 2014.

I will have been with my partner for almost 23 and a half years by then.

It will be too late for me to have either of my parents at my wedding.

It will be too late for me to have my nephew at our wedding.

It will be too late for my wife to have her only sibling, her sister, at our wedding.

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I will be 51 before the law will allow me to marry.

It will be too late for me, or my wife, to be a ‘blushing bride’. We will be, we are, middle aged women.

It will be too late for the dozens of friends and family, who were alive when we first wanted to marry, 23 years ago, who supported us in our love, and who are now gone.


Of course I’m delighted to be able to marry Shelley.

Of course I’m grateful to all those who have worked so hard for SIMPLE EQUALITY IN LAW.

But yes, it is painful that it has come too late for those many thousands of gay couples denied this equality in the past.

Do remember, straight couples in your 70s, as you celebrate your golden wedding anniversaries, all those gay couples in their 70s who have been together just as long, and deserve the same celebratory joy, who will never live long enough to celebrate their own golden wedding anniversary.

It is tremendously sad it has come too late for those where one partner has died in the years of the very slow progress to law.

It is sad that it took so damn long to see the heartbreakingly simple truth, that my getting married affects no-one but my wife and I, other than spreading around a little of the pleasure we can all feel when we see two people who love each other dearly. My marriage makes no difference to you, just as yours makes no difference to me. My marriage makes, of course, a huge difference to me, to my wife, and to those who love us. Our having to wait 23 years means that many who love us will not be able to celebrate with us.


We will get married, we’ll do something special and lovely, I’m sure.

We’ll raise a glass to all those who fought to make us a little bit more equal.

And we’ll also raise a glass to those we have lost in the long long time it has taken for this piece of equality under the law to arrive.

(I do rather like that this news has come on the day when, 13 years ago, Shelley and I first gave each other wedding rings, long before any possibility of Civil Partnership, let alone marriage.)

Stella Duffy is a writer and theatre director, who tweets as @stellduffy. This post originally appeared on and is cross-posted here with permission

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