Monday, March 31, 2014

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

"Its Spring And Love Is In The Air... Live Fearlessly"

"The Imitation Of Life..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"What Would Jesus Do...?"

What Would You Do If You Found Out Your Child Was Gay?

Monday, March 31, 2014  

What would you do if you found out your child was gay?

It is a question very few parents ever ask themselves, and one that many think even less about since they believe it is something that only happens to 'other people'.

But finding out that your child is gay in a society that is still struggling to accept the lifestyle is something that a number of parents have to face.

In fact, it is estimated that between three to 10 per cent of the world's population is homosexual, meaning that it's an issue that parents face daily. So what would you do if you found out that your child was gay?

George H, father of four:
"Well, it might sound harsh but I would disown him. I'm telling you the honest truth! It may seem harsh, but if he was a gunman it's the same way I would treat him. He would have to go and live his life and don't get me mixed up in it. The way I see it, the world can't run without families, you have to reproduce to make families, and two men can't reproduce. So that alone should tell you that it's wrong. If it was my daughter, she stands a better chance with me. Women can get away much more than men 'cause it's not so obvious with females. But I still wouldn't encourage it. I would do what I need to do to try change her mind."

Garfield Y, father of three:
"It would be difficult as hell, but I would accept it. It would be easier to handle if it is my daughter as we could still maintain that father/daughter relationship. But it would be impossible to have anywhere near a good father/son relationship with my son."

Wayne W, father of one:
"As long as she is happy, I wouldn't kill her. I would more be happy that she trusts me enough to tell me. But if I have a son who is gay that is different still. I wouldn't want to hear, but I wouldn't kill him. I would just stay far from him. Just the thought of him doing that with another man turns my stomach! But girl or boy, support done at 18, straight or not!"

Hugh W, father of two:
"I would be very upset, but if it's my daughter I would love her just the same. I would not condone the lifestyle but what am I going to do? I would still have to love her."

Angela H, mother of three:
"I don't know, to be honest. A lot of people say it can't happen to them and then you realise that is when you are faced with it then you know how to handle it. But I would not judge."

Bobbette B, mother of one:
"If I find out while she is in high school I would try and get counselling for her. If that doesn't work, then it would be very hard to accept because it is not something I believe in. But I couldn't put her out."

Olivia J, mother of one:
"I would try and find counselling for her. But if I have a boy and realise he was gay, he would have to leave! Him couldn't stay in the same house with me."

Roxanne T, mother of one:
"I wouldn't do anything. It's my child. I definitely wouldn't throw her out. She just couldn't flaunt it in my house, but I would have to love her just the same."

Andrae T, father of two:
"With the knowledge I have now I would not throw out the child. But there would be a lot of rules in my house; for the boy: no tight clothes, no bleach-out hair and skin, no dressing in drag. He is still supposed to look respectable. And he still has to go to school. His occupation cannot be 'gay'. For the girl, no baggy clothes, no wearing of underpants — she still has to look like a girl. For them the rule is simple — like AIDS — you're not supposed to tell by just looking!"


I titled this post, "What Would Jesus Do...?" because in my experience the extreme homophobia that exists in Jamaica and other Caribbean states is due to the influence of evangelical Christianity (especially that which is exported from the United States).  And the irony of this is that I am sure that the savior that many Jamaicans claim a fervent belief in would love and accept all of their children and wouldn't understand the hatred that is claimed in his name.

Nevertheless, this article is encouraging... At least the conversation, (albeit a horrifying one in some cases) has begun.  Recently, the courts in Kingston actually deemed that the many young and homeless gay men and boys in the capital had a right to live and sleep in the sewers (the police had routinely driven them out), and this was heralded as a great victory in the country where being gay is often a death sentence at the hands of mob violence.

Perhaps the day will soon come when it will be okay to be gay and just as you are.  For Jamaica, that day is long overdue.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Sometimes In Advertising..."

"This Made Me Smile..."

"When Ethel's grandchildren asked her what she was doing on her new part-time job,
all she would say was, 'I put the finishing touches on the product.'"

"The Truth About Love And Hate..."

Family Adopts 15-Year Old Gay Teen Who Was Disowned By His Homophobic Birth Family

Adrian Garcia
March 28, 2014

15-year-old Michigan teenager Corey Nichols kept his his sexual orientation hidden from his family for years, fearing the worst if his homophobic parents found out he was gay.
“If any fag lived in this house, I would shoot them in the head with a shotgun,” Corey recalls his father saying, and adding to his growing concerns. His father also said that gay people weren’t just sinners, they were sin itself, and that they were killed when they reached a certain age.
Corey told a local LGBT radio program ‘Out In Santa Cruz,‘ that his father used to beat him and ignored his son after developing a high fever.
Queerty recaps Corey’s interview with Out In Santa Cruz:
One night, Corey got drunk and developed a fever. His parents, suspecting their son might be gay, ignored him. Days later, at 2 o’clock in the morning, he was delirious and suicidal. He went online to chat with his friend Aubrey
“I am desperate. Things here are so bad, I want to slit my wrists. I am not kidding,” he wrote to her.
At that moment, Aubrey’s mother, Mindy, happened to see what was on her daughter’s computer screen. She immediately jumped into action.
“It was like I was possessed by someone else,” she told Out In Santa Cruz. “I knew I needed to act, and to do something, but everything I did was against my nature and not how I usually act as a person.”
Mindy and Aubrey went over to Corey’s house and picked him up. When they got back to their home, Mindy was horrified to see Corey was almost blue from pneumonia. For the next two weeks, she and her husband Dale nursed him back to health. During that time, Corey’s parents allegedly never inquired about their son.
After recovering, Corey returned home. He confessed to his mother that he was gay. She passed the news onto Corey’s father, who flew into a rage.
“He was yelling and screaming about how a fag was living in his home and he can’t believe the devil was in his presence,” Corey told Out In Santa Cruz. “I locked myself in my room when my brother came home. The first thing my father did was tell him about how his brother was nothing but a worthless fag.”
Corey claims when his parents and brother tried breaking down the bedroom door, he took refuge in the bathroom. After they had gone to sleep, he slipped out of the house, never to return again.
With nowhere else to turn, he returned to his friend Aubrey’s house. Her family once again took Corey in, this time permanently.
“Initially we set Corey’s bedroom up in our basement,” Dale explained. “We gathered what we could since he didn’t bring anything with him. His first bedroom in our home was made of walls with moving blankets tacked to the ceiling. There was a bed, a nightstand, an old dresser and a box fan. That kid was so freaking happy … Made me cry to see Corey with next to nothing and be happy about it.”
Weeks later, Mindy and Dale filed a petition to formally adopt Corey. On the day of the court hearing, Corey’s birth family didn’t show up to contest the adoption.
“I want the world to know that Corey is a beautiful human being,” Mindy told Out In Santa Cruz. ”I want the world to see Corey’s pain and know it is not necessary. Sexuality is such a small part of who we are. First and foremost Corey is a loving, genuine, caring, intelligent human being. Who he is attracted to and who he marries is of little significance.”
Listen to Corey and Mindy’s full interview below:

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Love And Happiness Looks Like This..."

Love is the universal truth
Marriage is its aspiration
Happiness is its goal

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"We Were Always There..."

"It was a daring photo for our day, but it captured the truth of our passions..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1652"

"Love Is When You Wake In The Morning And He Is There..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"The Artist's Corner..."

Oil on canvas
Wes Hempel

Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

"Only Love Is Important... Live Fearlessly"

"We Were Always There..."

"We bravely loved each other..."

"The Imitation Of Life..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Poet's Corner..."

"Ae Fond Kiss"
Robert Burns

Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
Never met -- or never parted,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.

"Another Family's Truth..."

Wendy and Tom with their five children in 2008.
Wendy Williams Montgomery, Mormon Mother, Shares Story About Gay Son

March 28, 2014

This week’s Huffington Post Gay Voices RaiseAChild.US “Let Love Define Family” series installment challenges our readers by combining the triple threat of hot-button topics: politics, religion and sexual orientation. Read on as Rich Valenza of RaiseAChild.US shares his frank conversation with one truly amazing mom, Wendy Williams Montgomery.

Rich Valenza: I hope you don’t mind if we start back in 2008. As if the Great Recession wasn’t bad enough for a person’s self-esteem, here in California we also had to deal with Prop 8. That was an especially painful time for my family and for me, personally. I was raised Catholic and when the news hit that the Mormon Church and Catholic Church were bankrolling Prop 8, I had a very hard time with it. The church that I grew up in very vocally campaigned against people like me and families like mine. Of course, my family had a “No on Prop 8” sign in our front yard. I assume that your family had a “Yes on Prop 8” sign in yours. How did that come about for you?

Wendy Williams Montgomery: My husband and I both grew up in conservative, devout Mormon homes. We had heard our whole lives that when the Mormon Church asks you to do something, you say yes. It was an opportunity to serve and an opportunity for blessings. So when our bishop, who is the head of our congregation, came over to our home and asked if we would participate, to our shame, pretty much without thinking, we said yes. He asked if we could donate financially. Because we have five children, we really didn’t have the means to donate financially. He asked if we could go out one day and go door-to-door and we said yes. So we went out one day and we did a survey. We asked people if the vote was that day, what way they would vote. We didn’t advocate for or against Prop 8, we just wrote down what their vote was and reminded them of the date that the vote was. I think it was Nov. 8 if I remember correctly. So that was our day of going door-to-door.

But yes, we had the sign in our yard. It got stolen once and we replaced it and got another sign. But looking back now, if there was ever one moment in time or one day I could take back, it would be that. Because my son was 9 turning 10 and going through that period of time and he walked home from school every day and he walked past that sign and I just wonder about the message he got walking past that sign every day. And what he thought his parents thought of gay people and what his Church thought of gay people and what he was internalizing about himself before he even knew for sure about himself. It’s my biggest regret of my entire life. I hate that I even had a part of that. We saw in our home the unrelenting consequences of Prop 8 and I doubt that the church knew how many of their own were hurt by it. I know that it’s not the message that they were intending to convey, but it was the message that was received. At least, in my home.

Valenza: How did you learn that your son is gay?
Montgomery: Well, we started getting really concerned about him when he was in junior high. He’s normally a very happy, enthusiastic kid. He was always smiling. Really energetic. Really bubbly kind of personality. Midway through 7th grade he started becoming really mopey and very depressed. His A’s and B’s turned into D’s and F’s on report cards. He wouldn’t talk to us. He wouldn’t smile. He hung out in his room. His friends started changing.

So we just started becoming really, really concerned about him. We would try and talk to him and he wouldn’t talk to us. We were getting really worried. So I just had this feeling come over me to read his journal, which he had just barely started keeping. It’s not something that I’d ever done before and I haven’t done it since. There were only maybe three or four entries in it. In one of them he had mentioned a boy in his class that he had been talking to and he was caught off guard by noticing what beautiful eyes this boy had. Then he thought of some girls that were his friends and their eyes didn’t interest him at all. There was another entry that talked about a school play that he was trying out for that was "Beauty and the Beast." It said that “in my dreams I would be Belle” and another boy would be the Beast. So that was kind of my realization. But there were about two weeks before Jordan was able to come out to us and before he knew that we knew. This time period was a huge blessing for us because I spent those two weeks doing nothing but reading everything that I could get my hands on and trying to figure out the best ways to help him. I wanted, when he came out to us, for that to be only love and only support and a really beautiful experience for him and not a horrible, terrifying, scary thing like it is for so many kids. I just wanted him to be surrounded by nothing but love from his parents.

Valenza: This is really remarkable. As the Prop 8 campaign unfolded, I got the message of my Church loud and clear. I kept my personal beliefs, but gave up on my church.

Again, you are of the opposite belief. You and your husband want to affect change from inside the Mormon Church. How does one family try to change the belief of the Mormon Church? How does one family do that?

Tom and Wendy Montgomery.
Montgomery: Well, I don’t know if one family is able to do that. I would love it if one family could do that. I have been a Mormon my entire life and I love being a Mormon. There is so much about it that resonates inside of me and I believe it deeply. There is so much about it that I find beautiful and good and that really speaks to me. There are a lot of things over the past couple of years that have caused me to question and caused me to falter in some of my beliefs. But the core things that I believe in have not changed.

Some of the policies and some of the culture in the Church is what I feel needs to change, like what has revolved around how homosexuality is handled in the Church. That’s not a doctrinal issue, that’s a policy issue. So to me, that could be something that would not be that hard to change, especially with how gay people are treated in the Church. Regardless of where someone is in their personal lives, they should be welcome in our congregations. Outside every one of our church buildings is a sign that says, “Visitors Welcome.” How we treat others, including gay people, is just a common decency thing.

One of the things we've tried to do as a family is to start a local support group for LDS (or Mormon) LGBT people and their families, because there is nothing like that where we live. We have a PFLAG group that we attend and are active in, but that’s a non-religious, non-denominational thing. But we started a local support group for people that are Mormon (or any religion). Anybody can come. We’ve also been vocal on social media, we’ve written articles, we attend lots of conferences and have spoken at lots of different events. We’re vocal in any forum we can and talk about this wherever we can -- about how to us, it’s just a matter of accepting and loving people as a whole and looking beyond stereotypes, just seeing the person behind the stereotype and loving them as Christ would love them.

Valenza: I am curious to know how you are received now in your church.
Montgomery: Well, it’s been really difficult to be honest. Before my son came out in 2012, we had been in our ward or the congregation for about 10 years. We had many, many dear friends in that ward. So when we had started to tell people in that ward that our son was gay, the friends that we had (not overnight but gradually) just sort of evaporated and the friends we thought we had… we didn’t have as much. It became what felt like an old-fashioned Amish shunning. When Jordan was 13 (two years ago, when he came out) and he passed the sacrament, which is similar to Catholic communion, there were people in the congregation who wouldn’t take it from my son, they would only take it from other boys. It was incredibly hurtful for me to see that happen. My son is 15 now and has never broken any of our church’s standards: he’s never even held a boy’s hand, he’s never had a boyfriend, he’s never broken any commandments that our church has set. It shouldn’t even be an issue if he had. But according to the rules that our Church has, he is still totally worthy to pass the sacrament, but people there still didn’t think he was good enough. So that was rough. And we would have people say pretty ignorant things to us. I had a woman tell me once that I should have my children taken away from me and given to some mother that would teach them to follow the prophet better. You know, my husband and I had assignments in that ward. I was teaching a class to the 15- and 16-year-old teenagers and my husband was president of the Elders Quorum, a group of older men of the congregation. We were getting so many complaints from other people in the ward that they didn’t want us working with their children or people in their family that we finally just stepped down from those callings. People wouldn’t sit by us in class, they wouldn’t talk to my son, they didn’t want him to go on scout camp outs. They wouldn’t let their sons go if my son was going and things like that.

We ended up switching wards. We are attending a different ward now. We have been there for about a year. And it’s been a little bit better, probably because we don’t know people as well so it’s not as hurtful when they’re not as friendly. We have a few people that have been supportive and sweet, but it’s still really hard. A few people will talk to us privately and thank us for what we’re doing, but there has not been anybody that’s been vocally supportive and will stand up for us. We feel very alone.

Valenza: You know, you are making me realize that when a child comes out, there’s a long process of coming out, reconciliation and realization that the parents have to go through, too. I guess I never fully understood the impact of that before talking to you.
Montgomery: Yeah, we’ve had to do our own coming out. How we did that will tell you how courageous and brave my son was at 13. He didn’t want to be in the closet at all. He hated the closet and I didn’t blame him. I think it’s a shameful, horrible, awful place to be. He wanted to let people know that he was gay. He didn’t want to hide. So I said, “Okay, how are we going to do that?” And he said, “Why don’t we just write a letter?” This was after family and close friends already knew. But just to let everyone else know. So I suggested that we write a letter and put it on Facebook so everybody would know.

He helped us write this letter. We wrote it but he set the time for its release and everything. It went out two days before he started high school as a freshman. As if that day’s not scary enough! We put it out on a Saturday and I remember going to church the next day on Sunday. I just remember being terrified, wanting to throw up because I was so scared and I thought this is probably nothing compared to what a gay person goes through. I remember thinking: I’m going to walk in this church, I’m going to look around and people are going to be pointing at us or whispering and wondering how many friends am I going to lose today? So that’s kind of our coming out story. Jordan has this therapist he sees sometimes and she said, “You guys didn’t come out, you crashed out.”

So, that was kind of what we did. But there were already rumors and things that were being said about my son. People were saying, “Are you gay?” and there was bullying going on because he’s not a super masculine kid. It would be really hard for him to fake being straight. So we thought, you know what, they’re already asking, there are already rumors and bullying, why don’t we address it and demystify the whole situation and say, “Yeah, he’s gay, he’s a fantastic kid, he’s wonderful.” Let’s set the tone for how we expected him to be treated, and then move on to the next conversation. That was kind of our intention. Once everybody knew, initially everybody was really nice and saying, “We still love you,” but as time went one I think the “We love you” part was forgotten and the “Oh, my gosh, he’s gay” stuck.

Valenza: Your own family, you said, is conservative. Has your relationship with your siblings and parents changed?

Montgomery: A little bit. It’s been a journey, I think, for all of us. I think the best way to describe it is when we found out that Jordan was gay it was like somebody told us that we had to learn Mandarin Chinese overnight. It was the most foreign thing ever and we had to learn it overnight to help our son. And other people can take a year or a decade and it can take longer for them to get it, but their love and devotion and support to Jordan hasn’t wavered even a little bit. But for some it’s taken a little longer but they love him 100 percent. They haven’t treated him any differently. We’re still invited to every family gathering. It’s been good. There are certain things that are a little bit awkward, but I think that’s just how it’s going to be. But it’s okay. They’ve been loving.

Wendy and Jordan were joined by his sister Susannah when they marched in the San Francisco Pride Parade in 2013.

Valenza: So what is it like having a gay son?
Montgomery: I think if somebody asked me a few days after I found out that he was gay, “If you could change him and make him straight, would you?” I would have said absolutely. Make it go away, this is so hard, I don’t want him to have to go through this, his life is going to be hard. That would have been my first, initial response because you grieve. I grieved what I thought his life would be, as a straight Mormon boy. But that was my selfish vision of what it was going to be and not who he really was.

But now two years into it, and even just a few months into it after I found out, I completely changed and I just see this wonderful boy. There has always been something so special about him, he just lights up a room. And I’ve had people my entire life tell me, “He’s the perfect boy, I wish my son could be more like him.” Then we find out what it was about him that was so special, and it’s that he’s gay. I wouldn’t change him for the world -- the things that make him special, the traits that are my favorite about him, he’s that way because he’s gay and I would never ever trade those things. The way he is and the beauty of his soul is because he’s gay. I would never take that away.

I have become a better person for having a gay son -- the things that I’ve learned and the way that I see other people and the way that I love other people, it’s just more loving, more open, less judgmental. I think I was wearing blinders for so long and I didn’t even know it. Having those blinders taken off has been the most wonderful experience. I tell him all the time “You are such a gift from God” because he has shown me how I’m supposed to be loving other people and I wouldn’t know that without him. He’s such a gift, such a gift. And my religion, as wonderful as it is, my religion didn’t teach me how to love. Jordan did. My son did.

Wendy Williams Montgomery and her family live in California’s Central Valley and are featured in a new film by Caitlin Ryan and The Family Acceptance Project, a research, intervention, education, and policy initiative that works to decrease health and mental health risks for LGBT children and youth, including suicide, homelessness and HIV, in the context of their families. On Sunday, May 18, 2014, the Montgomery Family will be presented with a “Let Love Define Family” award at the annual RaiseAChild.US HONORS gala. For more information about the RaiseAChild.US HONORS gala, visit www.RaiseAChild.US and click on “RSVP.”

Rich Valenza is Founder and CEO at RaiseAChild.US, a national organization headquartered in Hollywood, California that encourages the LGBT community to build families through fostering and adopting to serve the needs of the 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system. RaiseAChild.US works with foster and adoption agencies that have received training in LGBT cultural competence through the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s “All Children-All Families” initiative. Since 2011, RaiseAChild.US has run media campaigns to educate prospective parents and the public, and has engaged more than 2,000 prospective parents. For information about how you can become a foster or fost/adopt parent, visit www.RaiseAChild.US and click on “Next Step to Parenthood.”

"A Sunday Thought To Ponder..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"An Ancient Truth Revealed..."

One word
Frees us of all the weight and pain of life:
That word is love.


"This Made Me Smile..."

A few fabulous ways to respond to the "Are You Gay?" question...

Be brutally scathing...
"It doesn't matter either way, you're not my type."

Provide some background information...

Or, you can always invoke the process of elimination...

Or, just flash 'em your fab t-shirt...

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"You Could Almost See Love Grow..."

If you're not ready for love, you're not ready for life...

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1651"

"Sunday Morning..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"The Artist's Corner..."

"Conversation Piece, Madeira"
Oil on panel
William Bruce Ellis Ranken

Saturday, March 29, 2014

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

"Love Is All You Need... Live Fearlessly"

"A Thought To Ponder..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"This Made Me Smile..."

"I love pub grub, but on second thought, I think I'd avoid this establishment..."

"Sometimes In Advertising..."

"Love And Life's Journeys..."

From the work of Chicago born photographer Richard Renaldi. Over the course of more than a decade, Richard has recorded images of himself and his partner Seth Boyd in their hotel rooms across the country and around the world for his project "Hotel Room Portraits."

I fell in love with these images from the very first time that I saw them.  There is something incredibly familiar and comforting in recognizing not only the love between Richard and Seth, but also the rigors of travel and the occasional weary eyes and tiredness that we all fall prey to.  Moreover, these photos reveal an intimacy and comfortableness that one finds only when two people are truly in love... They reveal "love and life's journeys."

Richard RenaldiRichard Renaldi was born in Chicago in 1968. He received his BFA in photography from New York University in 1990. Exhibitions of his photographs have been mounted in galleries and museums throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe. In 2006 Renaldi's first monograph, Figure and Ground, was published by the Aperture Foundation. His second monograph, Fall River Boys, was released in 2009. Richard Renaldi is the founder and publisher of Charles Lane Press.

"We Were Always There..."

"When people asked who we were to each other,
we always said, 'I'm his and he's mine...'"

"On The Right Side Of History..."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
”I have determined that the same-sex marriages performed last Saturday in Michigan will be recognized by the federal government. These families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.”

“The Governor of Michigan has made clear that the marriages that took place on Saturday were lawful and valid when entered into, although Michigan will not extend state rights and benefits tied to these marriages pending further legal proceedings,”

"Congratulations England & Wales..."

Last night, the first couples married across England and Wales as full marriage equality arrived in most of the UK.  Scotland's Marriage Act will become effective later this summer leaving only Northern Ireland and some of the smaller island provinces without marriage equality in the UK, which first enacted civil partnerships nearly 10 years ago.  In celebration of the momentous event, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that the rainbow flag will fly above Whitehall (seat of the UK government's cabinet offices) until Monday. 

Gay Marriage Is Legal From Midnight Tonight As Rainbow Flag Flies Over Whitehall
Nick Clegg says whole country should raise a glass to momentous occasion as gay people can now legally marry

Simon Keegan
March 28, 2014

Same sex couples can legally marry from midnight tonight - and the new era for gay rights will be marked with the rainbow flag flying over Whitehall.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the whole country should raise a glass to this landmark event.

The Lib Dem leader said: "As all the same-sex couples make their vows this weekend, they will be making history.

"Finally, after years of campaigning, any couple who wants to get married can get married. Together we have made our country a place where we celebrate love equally, gay or straight – and for that reason we should all be raising a glass.

"Raising the rainbow flag on Whitehall is a small symbol to celebrate a massive achievement. I want to wish everyone getting married this weekend the very best of luck on what is a truly momentous occasion."

The rainbow flag was adopted in 1970s San Francisco as a symbol of gay rights.

The Pink News reported that Mr Clegg was backed by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude who said: "It’s great that from this Saturday all couples across England and Wales will be able to celebrate their commitment by getting married. To mark this, the Cabinet Office will be flying the rainbow flag this weekend."

Mr Clegg told Pink News: "I couldn’t be prouder – and that goes for the whole Liberal Democrat party. And, as this right becomes an essential part of the fabric of our society, we must remember the struggle and commitment of all of those who have campaigned so hard to get us to this point.

"It’s also important that we never forget those children, young people and adults who still experience homophobic bullying in their day-to-day lives. I want them to know that we will continue to do all that we can to ensure this type of prejudice and discrimination has no place in modern Britain today.

Sean Adl-Tabatabai, left, and Sinclair Treadway kiss each other after they were announced officially married during a wedding ceremony in the Council Chamber at Camden Town Hall in London

"What the fight for equal marriage, and equal rights as a whole, shows us is that with enough determination, change is always possible. In the last five decades alone, we’ve come a huge way in this country to transform both the attitudes and laws that isolated, and unfairly treated, people who are gay, trans or bi-sexual. But there’s still work to be done.

"Our message is that, whatever your background, sexuality or gender, love is the same the world over and equal rights make every society fairer and stronger. That is what I will continue to say to all those people in power, or not, who seek to deny these freedoms to others across the world."

Prime Minister David Cameron said: " This is about equality. But it is also about making our society stronger.

Andrew Wale and Neil Allard marry just after midnight in Brighton
“I know there are strong views on both side of the argument - I accept that. But I think this is an important step forward for our country.”

Other members of the Tory party have not been as welcoming however with many claiming it would undermine the institution of marriage.

Conservative grandee Sir Roger Gale said: "Marriage is the union between a man and a woman, has been historically, remains so.

"It is Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian almost, for any government of any political persuasion to seek to come along and try to re-write the lexicon. It will not do."

Another Tory veteran, Edward Leigh MP said: "We should be concerned with equality, but not at the expense of every other consideration, not at the expense of tradition."

His colleague Sir Gerald Howarth said: "I believe marriage can only be between a man and a woman. I shall not surrender my principles.

"I believe this bill is wrong. The consultation was a complete sham, it is opposed by the established church and has caused deep and needless divisions inside the Conservative party."

The Government was forced to rely on Labour support as the MPs voted 400 to 175 in favour of same sex unions.

Peter McGraith and David Cabreza marry last night at Islington Town Hall, London
Ed Miliband said: “This is a proud day and an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain.

“The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs supported this change to make sure marriage reflects the value we place on long-term, loving relationships whoever you love.”


Congratulations UK!

"Fear Eats the Soul"

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