At midnight tonight, for the first time in history, gay couples will be able to get married in exactly the same way as straight couples who choose to have civil ceremonies. Sophie Wilkinson thinks it marks a huge turning point in the way we are promoting equality in the UK - but she also worries it will put undue pressure on people in her position. Sophie's article is in this week's issue, but here she explains why she wrote it - and why it's taken her so long...
'I wrote this piece because I feel that the pressure to marry is outmoded yet prevalent in so many women's lives. It creates an atmosphere of expectancy and shame, particularly on women, which is ridiculous when you consider 15.7 million people aren't married.
I don’t wish to rain on the parade of any same sex couple happily striding down the aisle this weekend or any weekend for that matter. People have fought for so long and so hard to get simple, legislative proof that gay love and straight love are equal in their legitimacy. However, if you’re in a couple with someone, you’ve won so many of the battles facing gay people. When young people are not only struggling to come out, but to get jobs and places to live (both of which are unfortunately harder to do if you’re gay), these pressures are all too much. Compound that with the general pressure on women to settle down, it just gets overwhelming. And it really does seem like while gay marriage is acceptable, gay desire is a step too far, and I think it’s wrong for the general consensus to be judging people, especially women, of any sexual orientation, who happily decide to live promiscuously.
I don’t want people to be put off of marriage if that is something they want from their current relationship, but I feel like enrichment in women’s lives should come from places other than some possible relationship.
It took me a long time to write this piece, I gave it a lot of thought as I went through different situations in my own private life, and the overriding thought, after some consternation, was that it’s an important opinion to be there, as it is not only encouraging of women who set out to do much with their lives and build a legacy beyond the family sphere, but it points out that whether lesbian, straight, bisexual, queer, or whatever, women face universal pressures to conform to outdated ideals'
Read the article in full in this week's issue of Grazia, on sale now