A few years ago, Sir John Randall, a former member of the British parliament, made a mistake.
Randall, the Conservative Party’s deputy chief whip at the time, was opposed to same-sex marriage when the issue came to a parliamentary vote in 2013.
The measure eventually passed later that year and went into effect in 2014, making same-sex marriage legal in the U.K. but without support from leaders like Randall.
At the time, plenty of voters in the U.K. weren’t happy with Randall’s anti-equality stance.
Four years later and two years into his retirement, however, Randall wants to make one thing clear to his constituents: He was wrong.
In a surprisingly candid statement provided to BuzzFeed News, Randall opened up about regretting his opposition to marriage equality.
“There are not many things that I regret about my time as an MP, but almost as soon as I voted against same-sex marriage, I knew I had made a mistake,” he explained.
Randall did note that his support was not crucial, seeing as the legislation overwhelmingly passed, but still — refusing to support the legislation “was not courageous,” he admitted.
Randall went on to explain:
“I think I was just not ready for this step, conflicted between many of my age group and those of the younger generation whose views I wanted to understand. Ultimately I think I knew that I was going to be on the wrong side, as those who wanted me to vote for [the legislation] were some of the nicest people I came across, something that couldn’t be said about those opposing.”
“So three years on I can honestly say I was wrong and I am sorry not to have been able to see it at the time,” he concluded.
Randall’s shifting attitudes on same-sex marriage reflects a larger, pro-equality trend in the West — maybe most notably among older voters.
In the U.S., marriage equality — once a bitterly divisive election issue — has found widespread support. In May 2016, 61% of Americans — including, for the first time, a majority of seniors over age 65 — supported marriage equality, according to Gallup. Just 37% opposed.
The U.K. has experienced a similar shift in attitude.
Randall’s sincere apology is resonating with people especially because in it, he takes full responsibility for his past attitudes and actions.
His evolving change of heart is one that people on both sides of the pond — particularly from older generations — can relate to.
“With hindsight I wish I had spoken to a very good friend and colleague before the vote,” Randall explained. “He might easily have been expected to oppose the move to same-sex marriage, but he said to me that it was something that wouldn’t affect him at all but would give great happiness to many people. That is an argument that I find it difficult to find fault with.”