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Marriage is for "One and All"

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7:01am 6th February 2013

A gay Cornish MP says same sex marriage matches Cornwall's values.

Truro and St Austell's Stephen Gilbert has been speaking as parliament votes it through.

He said: "I am a gay man who grew up in a rural part of our country, in Cornwall, in a working class background.

"I grew up some 20 odd years ago in an environment that made it hugely difficult for me to be open, honest and upfront with my family, with my friends, with my workmates about the choices I wanted to take in life and the people who I wanted to see.

"That was unacceptable 20 years ago, it is unacceptable today but for many hundreds of thousands of people across our country it remains the case.

"So I am standing here today to welcome this historic legislation which I think will end this discrimination but, more crucially, it will send a signal that this house values everybody equally across our country and that signal will deeply affect those people who, like me, 20 years ago saw this house vote to equalise the age of consent. That was the first time I'd seen on a TV screen other gay people, it was the first time I realised I was not alone and it changed my life."

Wearing a rainbow tie, the MP addded: "I think as a community we should be valuing diversity but treating everybody equally. These values are enshrined in Cornwall's motto 'One and All'. It is a community that I grew up in and a community I am proud to represent, one that values community.

"It is not One and All apart from if you are black, apart from if you are a catholic or apart from if you are gay. It is a community that distrusts abuse of power, which is exactly why the Secretary of State is right in saying that this bill will not compel people or religious organisations to do anything that they choose not to do. We have struck the right balance in ensuring equality and preserving religious freedom."

He concluded: "Equal marriage will not be the end of the struggle for gay equality in the same way that delivering the franchise to women or ending apartheid wasn't in those battles. But it will start allowing us to ask the right questions to answer those other problems. It will send a clear signal that we value everybody equally."

The vote means same sex couples could marry within a year.

7:01am 6th February 2013

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