UK: House of Commons Passes Marriage Equality Bill By Huge Margin

Written by scott on February 6th, 2013

LondonThe marriage equality has been passed by the first of two houses of parliament by a 400 to 175 vote margin. More conservatives rejected the bill than expected. Edge Boston reports:

British lawmakers on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage championed by Prime Minister David Cameron, despite stronger-than-expected opposition from within his Conservative Party. In a first House of Commons vote, lawmakers voted 400 to 175 in support of the legislation. There was strong support from the left-leaning Labour Party and Liberal Democrats party, but many Conservatives rejected the proposals.

And Pam’s House Blend is reporting that the Coalition for Marriage is putting the best face on their loss in the House of Commons:

How does the UK’s anti-gay Coalition for Marriage respond to their sound defeat? “I am pleased that we achieved a very strong ‘no’ vote”. Shades of National Organization for Marriage claiming yesterday that they “defeated a lame-duck session bill in Illinois that would have legalized same-sex marriage” just as an Illinois state Senate committee passed the bill and sent it to the Senate floor.

Pink News reports that only two of Northern Ireland’s MP’s voted for marriage equality:

Of the 13 Northern Irish MPs eligible to take part, only two voted in favour of the proposals. The two were Mark Durkan of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Naomi Long of the Alliance Party All eight Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MPs voted against, as well as independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon. Margaret Ritchie and Alasdair McDonnell of the SDLP asbstained.

In related news, some are calling for civil partnerships to be opened to heterosexual couples. Pink News reports that David Cameron will consider it, but isn’t thrilled with the idea:

The prime minister says he will “listen carefully” to idea of making civil partnerships open to straight couples – but adds: “I’m a marriage man”. David Cameron made the comments on Wednesday lunchtime at PMQs in response to a question from Conservative MP Christopher Chope. He asked for civil partnerships to be open to heterosexual as well as gay couples.

Joe.My.God has some of the reactions in the British Press.

He also has a breakdown of how Britain’s political parties voted on the bill:

Labour 217 Yes, 22 No
Conservatives (Tories) 136 Yes, 144 No
Liberal Democrats 44 Yes, 4 No
Plaid Cymru (Wales) 4 Yes, 0 No.
Democratic Unionists (Northern Ireland) 0 Yes, 8 No
Alliance 1 Yes, 0 No
SDLP (Northern Ireland) 1 Yes, 0 No
Independents 2 Yes, 0 No

For those of us unfamiliar with how legislation moves through the British system, AmericaBlog has a primer for what’s next:

Committee Stage – a small committee of members of Parliament reviews the law, makes amendments; typically this is where bad drafting is fixed but also where lobbying really makes a difference.

Lords stage – the House of Lords votes on the Bill and sometimes has its own committees. If they vote no, the Bill goes back to the Commons. The Commons can insist on their own version and overrule the Lords but it’s a big pain to do it.

3rd Reading – once the Lords’ have passed the bill, the Commons votes one last time on the final amended version.

And finally, also from AmericaBlog, a history of Britain’s gay rights movement:

A great video from Britain’s Channel 4 looking at the cultural shift in Britain from the mid-1950s to today in terms of attitudes towards gays and lesbians.

Now we wait for the House of Lords vote.


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