UK: Marriage Equality Bill Survives Amendment Onslaught

Written by scott on May 20th, 2013

you tube bigA number of amendments were offered to the marriage equality bill, including at least one that could have killed it.

Pink News reports on one that would have allowed registrars opt out of performing same sex weddings:

An amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill tabled by Conservative MP David Burrowes, urging for registrars to be allowed to opt out of performing marriages for gay couples, has been defeated in the House of Commons. MPs voted 340 to 150 to reject the amendment. Those voting with Mr Burrowes included the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats Simon Hughes. Mr Burrowes’ amendment stated: “Any duty of a registrar to conduct a marriage is not extended by this Act to marriages of same-sex couples where a registrar holds a conscientious objection to conducting such marriages”.

Current British law makes it illegal to deny goods or services based on sexual orientation.

Pam’s House Blend reports that several amendments were passed:

Friendly amendments passed, including Amendment 23 which “protects ministers of religion employed by secular organisations (eg as hospital or university chaplains) who refuse to carry out same sex marriages from claims being made against them personally under the employment provisions of the Equality Act 2010\0x2033, and Amendment 24 which “requires, rather than (as the Bill does at present) allows, the Lord Chancellor to make an order enabling the Church in Wales to marry same sex couples, if he is satisfied that the Church has resolved to do so,” according to LGBTory.

The Labour Party was successful in fending off an amendment that would have opened civil partnerships to straight couples as part of the marriage equality bill, a measure that had the potential to delay or kill the bill. Instead, the issue was passed in a separate measure:

Considerable debate was dedicated to amendments related to Civil Partnerships. New Clause 16, which commits the Government to undertake a prompt, formal review of Civil Partnerships after same-sex marriage is legalized, passed 391 to 57. New Clause 10, which would have extended Civil Partnerships to opposite-sex couples immediately, was rejected 375 to 70. MPs opposing NC 10 expressed concern that its adoption could delay passage of the bill, or even be used to scuttle it.

The Telegraph has a list of the MPs who voted for the poison pill amendment.

The Dish points out the rank hypocrisy of the marriage equality proponents:

The cynical wrecking amendment has gone down in flames – by 375 votes to 70. It’s a fascinating insight into the opposition to marriage equality on the far right. A conservative – yes, a conservative – was proposing to extend civil partnerships, i.e.e marriage-lite, to heterosexual couples rather than allow gay couples to be married. Such civil partnerships, if extended to everyone, as in France, would do much much more to undermine the institution of civil marriage than allowing gays to participate in the institution. It’s pretty obvious evidence that bigotry was behind this – a betrayal of core conservative principles in order to prevent gay equality.

The debate is exposing rifts in the Conservative Party, as Reuters reports:

Almost 40 percent of Cameron’s 303 lawmakers in the lower house of parliament voted for an ultimately unsuccessful amendment that would have allowed registrars to refuse to perform gay marriage ceremonies if they objected. Scores backed another amendment that the government said would have sabotaged its efforts to legalize same sex unions. Cameron’s failure to unite his ruling Conservative Party over gay marriage and over his other major policy – renegotiating Britain’s membership of the European Union – risks undermining his chances of being re-elected in 2015 even as the economy is showing signs of returning to growth.

Seeing Cameron stand for marriage equality even at his own political peril is inspiring.

Outside, a group of Christians prayed for the failure of the bill. Joe.My.God reports.

There will be more debate tomorrow, and then the bill should get its third and final reading, The Bilerico Project reports:

But today, members struck a deal allowing the equal marriage bill to proceed. Debate is scheduled for today and tomorrow (watch it live here), and the bill’s third reading — its last procedural hurdle in the House of Commons — will happen tomorrow as well.


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