The Tory Schools Minister Nick Gibb has announced that he is gay, and that he will marry his partner Michael Simmonds later this year. The news comes as a big surprise, as Mr Gibb and Mr Simmonds have been in a relationship for 29 years. They have kept this relationship to themselves to political relations, friends, and family members.
Nick Gibbon (54) is Schools Minister and has been an MP for the constituency Bognor Regis and Littlehampton since 1997. His partner Michael Simmonds is the co-founder and director of pollster Populus.
Nick Gibb and Michael Simmonds have kept their relationship secret for nearly thirty years. They both have their own house, even though they co-habited most of the time. They also did not go to official meetings together, nor did they visit family as a couple. Mr Gibbs revealed his homosexuality and relationship with Mr Simmonds to his 79-year-old mother a week earlier. Gibb: “I think my mother was initially shocked — that’s an age thing — but then very supportive and what she wants is for me to be happy. We are close, so to her being a loving family is more important than anything else.”
Nick Gibb and Michael Simmonds met in the mid-1980s when they were in their mid-twenties. On the nature of their relationship Mr Gibb says: “We met in a different era so you are in a way locked into that and we were comfortable with it. It was easier to have a relationship that wasn't known about. It didn't really bother us, we both had successful careers. We just got on with life.”
Mr Gibb and Mr Simmonds were never in favour of partnership registration, as they are of the opinion that there should be no distinction between m/f couples and same-sex couples. They deliberately waited until it was possible to marry, for which they also have practical reasons. “If one of us was ill and had to go to hospital it would be awful if we couldn’t be there for each other,” Mr Gibb stated. The couple intends to marry in November.
Mr Gibb voted in favour of opening up marriage to same-sex couples in 2013. This makes him part of the minority in his party (127 voted in favour, and 136 against, while 5 members withheld) Mr Gibbs praised Prime Minster David Cameron for taking the initiative to open up marriage in England and Wales.