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MP Yvette Cooper was one of the honorees.
Congratulations to Britain's glbtq news source PinkNews and to the recipients of the inaugural PinkNews Awards, which were presented on October 23, 2013 in the state rooms of the Speaker of the House of Commons at Westminster Palace. The Awards, which were attended by leading politicians, honored those who led the fight for marriage equality in the U.K., but perhaps the big winner of the evening was PinkNews itself.
The awards were presented to recognize the contributions of politicians, businesses, and community groups dedicated to improving glbtq life across the United Kingdom.
Hosted by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, whose heraldry includes a series of pink triangles and rainbow colors, as well as the motto "All Are Equal," to highlight his history of championing glbtq rights, the event was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Culture Minister Maria Miller, and Equalities Minister Helen Grant, among many other politicians. Clegg and Grant commended PinkNews for its untiring campaign on behalf of marriage equality and emphasized the need to do more, particularly in the areas of bullying and hate crimes.
Speaker Bercow lauded the record of all three parties in the road toward equal rights. Of Labour's record in government, Speaker Bercow said "In the period 1997-2010, there was the single greatest raft of reforming equality legislation that has taken place under any government of any colour at any time."
The Speaker then praised the current coalition government led by Prime Minister Cameron for taking "the final step in the legislative course." He observed that "we have moved from a position fifty years ago" where homosexuality was criminalized "to the imminent practical prospect of complete legal equality. That is quite a trek."
Among the recipients of the Awards were MP Mike Freer, who won in the categoy of Parliamentary Speech of the Year; and former Shadow Equalities Minister Yvette Cooper and Baroness Stowell of Beeston, who were jointly honored as Politician of the Year for their efforts on behalf of the marriage equality bill.
Freer, the openly gay Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, was honored for the speech he gave on February 5, 2013 in the House of Commons, in which he told his colleagues: "Today, we have an opportunity to do what is right and to do some good. I am a Member of this Parliament and I say to my colleagues that I sit alongside them in Committee, in the bars and in the Tea Room, and I queue alongside them in the Division Lobby, but when it comes to marriage, they are asking me to stand apart and to join a separate queue. I ask my colleagues, if I am equal in this House, to give me every opportunity to be equal."
Here is a video of Freer's speech.
Former Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, and current Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper was a key player in passing the marriage equality bill. She not only supported the bill throughout its passage, but at a crucial moment raised concerns with the government about timetabling issues and attempts to wreck the bill.
Conservative peer Baroness Stowell was chosen by Prime Minister David Cameron to guide the equal marriage bill through the House of Lords. She was widely praised for securing a majority of Conservative peers to vote in favor of the bill.
In the video below, Baroness Stowell and Yvette Cooper accept the inaugural PinkNews Award as Politician of the Year.
Prime Minister Cameron was unable to attend the ceremony, but in an op-ed published on October 24, 2013 in PinkNews, he offered congratulations to the winners and to Pink News.
He also commented, "I think few people expected a Conservative Prime Minister to introduce equal marriage, but I am proud to have done so. It was right that we had the debate. And the great thing about that debate was that we didn't just win the vote, we won the argument."
He added, "There is much still to do to address issues like bullying and homophobic crime. We will continue this work urgently--and I know that we will be supported and urged on in those endeavours by many of those at the PinkNews Awards yesterday evening."