(This article was first published on Lib Dem Voice - http://www.libdemvoice.org/ed-fordham-writes-oooh-equal-everyone-surely-not-23092.html)
Filling out a form the other day the options were single, married, divorced, civil partnerships – so I didn’t complete that question.

No other, no long-term relationship – so it clearly didn’t apply to me… I tried explaining this to the person at the desk and they were positively un-interested. But yet again it irritated me.

Surely I’m not the only person who because I can’t marry (and therefore can’t divorce!), who hasn’t had a civil partnership, but considers themselves to be in a long term relationship?

Cue Equality Minister, Lynne Featherstone and the influence of the Liberal Democrats in the Government. The thing I like about it just how uncontroversial the idea of equal marriage actually seems to be – the internal angst of certain religious faiths is a matter for them and their congregations and whilst I support those who are campaigning on such matters, for me, it’s a matter for them.

This should be a simple and uncontroversial law – to give any couple the right to a civil partnership or marriage essentially anywhere consenting – it means I could hire Hampstead Old Town Hall, or perhaps speak to my local Unitarians or Quakers, a more tricky and less profitable conversation with my Parish Priest or even ask for a large marquee on a large green space that has a special place in the heart of my partner and I.

And in a curious sort of way I think that’s where it stops as an issue… but somehow I suspect there will be howls of objection from the Christian right, no doubt the moral fabric of society will collapse, we may even have the bizarre scene of a gay rights group saying please don’t make this reform it ‘might’ [might] cost money, though we’re not sure how and have no evidence… [irony alert]! I also think that the House of Lords might want to dust off their sleeping bags for this one…

So how long for such legislation? – I‘m not sure and it’s only the consultation that has been announced by the Home Office. It feels like it might be a few years in the journey through from announcement on consultation through to statute books. But now I know that this weekend as I celebrate and genuinely appreciate being with my partner for many many years (it’s our anniversary on Saturday), Lynne Featherstone (political hero) will be toasted and crossed off my list of people to whom I might get hitched and instead I’ll be talking to my life partner of my choice.

Ed Fordham is the Liberal Democrat parliamentary campaigner for Hampstead and Kilburn and spoke in the equal marraige debate at Party Conference (September 2010)