The debate on the UK’s marriage equality bill for England and Wales moved to the Report Stage yesterday. Gay Star News reports:
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has just completed the first day of the Report Stage, with several votes made on amendments made to wreck the bill. Among the many voted down was an amendment to allow registrars to refuse to do their job and not marry same-sex couples. It was voted down by a majority of 175.
But the most entertaining part involved George Clooney, indirectly:
Baroness Tina Stowell made the illustrious point while talking about how gay couples did not need to divorce on grounds of adultery.
She said: ‘As the law stands, if I was married to George Clooney and he was to have a sexual affair with, say, the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, that would be adultery. ‘If I was married to George Clooney and Mr Clooney had sexual relations with the noble Lord, Lord Alli, that would not be adultery because he would not be able to do the sexual act which is very specifically defined in law. ‘Should I wish to divorce Mr Clooney on those grounds, I would do so on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour.
Another amendment, to force a public vote, will e given a second reading in November, which I think basically kills it, as the law is expected to be in effect by then. Pink News reports:
A private member’s bill for a referendum on plans to legalise same-sex marriage in England and Wales will be subjected to a second reading debate by MPs on 29 November 2013. It has been tabled by Conservative MP and equal marriage critic Peter Bone, and was unveiled last month as part of an “alternative Queen’s Speech” by backbench Tories.
Another amendment was also defeated, one that would have “protected” teachers from “endorsing” marriage equality. Pink News reports:
An amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill which would have “protected” teachers from being forced to “endorse” equal marriage, has been defeated in a vote in the House of Lords. Amendment 46 was defeated in a vote at Report stage of the House of Lords by 163 to 32, as the debate around amendments went on into the night. The amendment had aimed to ensure that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill would not “Affect the right of teachers to express their personal views about marriage in an appropriate way, or mean that any teacher will be under any obligation to endorse a particular view of marriage.”
And in related news, a new poll says that 59% of Tory activists oppose the bill. Pink News reports:
A new YouGov poll of more than 800 Conservative Party activists shows 59% totally oppose legislation to allow for same-sex marriage in England and Wales. Only 24% of those surveyed were in total support of the government’s marriage reforms. The results show that the vast majority of the 852 Conservative Party members surveyed had a negative view of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. It also suggested that 19% – almost one in five – of Conservative members are seriously considering voting for the UK Independence Party at the next general election.
After the Report Stage, the bill gets its Third Reading, and then goes to the Queen for Royal Assent, assuming no changes have been made that require the House of Commons to approve it again. It could become law by the fall.