It is FY1 shadowing week.
Today, one of my friends and comrades-in-utter-terror slipped into the doctors’ office on my ward, waved the mobile edition of the BBC News website in my face, and slipped back out as we made tiny squeeing thumbs ups at one another. If my consultant hadn’t been sitting right there, I would have grabbed her and hugged her and danced around the room. A little while earlier, the Scottish Government had announced that they would be seeking to legislate equal marriage, making both civil marriage and discretionary religious marriage available to same sex couples as well as to opposite sex couples.
I went to a civil wedding last week. The last time I was at a civil wedding, I was about five — in the intervening decades, I’ve been to religious weddings and to civil partnership ceremonies, but never to a civil wedding. I was unpleasantly astonished, at this wedding that had nothing to do with any church, when the registrar proclaimed that marriage was intended to be between one man and one woman. This proclamation is apparently part of a civil wedding. It was a beautiful wedding and a great joy to be celebrating the union of two people who I love very much. I hadn’t expected that, though. And, still a little high from Pride, I felt just for a second as if English marriage law had slapped me in the face. For one thing, I’ve never needed to be reminded of the rights that I don’t have and nor, I imagine, have most gay people.
But in the wonderful, beautiful, rainy little country that I now call home, the Government has stood up today and said that that inequality will be no more.
I’ve seen this campaign unfold from the very beginning. I was there in the committee room at Holyrood on the day that it was first introduced. I was there at Pride Scotia 2008 a few weeks later for its official launch. I had been there before that, with the Equality Network, when we were collecting signatures and very quietly beginning to make a nuisance of ourselves. I’ve met some extraordinary people through this — ordinary people, for the most part, who have done an extraordinary thing. It is only right, then, that today, I am extraordinarily proud of every single one of them.
‘When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”‘