British Deputy Prime Minister Nick
Clegg and former Prime Minister Tony Blair over the weekend endorsed
an effort to legalize gay marriage in the country before 2015.
Last September, the UK's ruling party,
the Conservative Party, which governs in coalition with the Liberal
Democrats, unveiled plans to legalize gay marriage, promising to
release a consultation document detailing its plans this month.
The government currently recognizes gay
and lesbian couples with civil partnerships, which offer most of the
legal protections of marriage. Heterosexual couples are not allowed
to enter a civil partnership.
Clegg told attendees at the spring
Liberal Democrat conference that marriage is a fundamental right that
extends to gay couples, UK gay weekly Pink
“Let me just say, if you are a young
gay person, your freedom to love who you choose is a fundamental
right in a liberal society and you will always have our support,”
Prime Minister David Cameron, the head
of the Conservative Party, supports the government's move, saying it
promotes conservative values such as commitment.
Independent on Sunday over the weekend quoted Blair, a Roman
Catholic since 2007, as telling friends that he “strongly supports
the Prime Minister's proposal.”
The comments come as religious leaders
– including senior figures in the Roman
Catholic Church and the Church
of England – have sharply criticized the government's plans.
Clegg alluded to those criticisms: “We
are bringing forward proposals for gay marriage, already provoking
debate.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.
our video library for more videos.)
Friday, Pope Benedict XVI called on visiting U.S. bishops to
fight the “powerful political and cultural currents seeking to
alter the legal definition of marriage.”