UK: House of Commons Passes Marriage Equality Bill on Third and Final Reading

Written by scott on May 21st, 2013

Big BenThe House of Commons gave its final seal of approval to the marriage equality bill today, sending it up to the House of Lords for consideration. Here’s a recap of today’s events.

An amendment that would have reinstated marriages for transgender citizens who had them annulled to have reassignment surgery was withdrawn. Pink News reports:

Equality Minister Helen Grant asked for amendments on rights for trans people in same-sex couples to be withdrawn in today’s House of Commons debate on the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill. She stated that the Government could not support an amendment allowing restoration of marriage to trans people who had had their marriage annulled in order to undergo gender reassignment. The Government could not recognise an annulled marriage as continuously valid. However, she said it would be possible to backdate a marriage to the start of a civil partnership.

One of the minority party leaders, lesbian MP Angela Eagle, is proud of the bill. Pink News reports:

I’m proud to be Labour because equality runs through the heart of my Party. We’ve always fought discrimination, even when it wasn’t easy or popular. We’ll lead the fight to get the bill through the Lords, and we’ll keep leading the charge for LGBT rights. When I came out in September 1998 I was the first openly gay woman in Parliament and the first lesbian in a ministerial post. I was prepared to lose my seat if that was the price of being open but I needn’t have worried. I got nothing but support from John Prescott, my Secretary of State at the time, Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, and even more importantly my wonderful, understanding and supportive constituents in Wallasey.

Another, Bisexual MP Simon Hughes, not so much. Gay Star News reports:

Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said during a discussion on humanist weddings that his religious beliefs influenced his decision on whether to vote for same-sex marriages. He has tabled an amendment that would separate church and faith-based marriage to the England and Wales equal marriage bill. He implied he would prefer to call civil marriages civil unions, but admitted as the debate has moved on he can no longer do that.

Another MP, David Burrowes, made a snarky response to a constituent’s letter. Pink News reports:

17-year-old, lesbian A-level student Victoria Munro, wrote to Tory MP David Burrowes, questioning his recent assertion that he is not “anti-gay”, and asking how it is possible to be “pro-marriage”, whilst voting to prevent people from being able to marry. Ms Munro questioned Mr Burrowes’ voting record on LGBT issues, and asserts that it suggests that he is anti-gay, and questions how he can say he is “pro-marriage”, whilst excluding a sector of society from the institution. In the response, Mr Burrowes plays on the famous Stonewall slogan “Some people are gay. Get over it!”, by saying: “I am a supporter of traditional marriage. Get over it!”.

The bill passed the House of Commons on a 366-161 vote. Pink News reports:

MPs have voted 366 – 161 overwhelmingly in favour of passing the Marriage (Same Sex Couples Bill) – in its third reading in the House of Commons – giving it a majority of 205. Shortly before the vote took place, Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller told MPs: “I accept that for some colleagues their beliefs mean that the principle of this issue is an insurmountable barrier to supporting this change. But to other colleagues I say, now is the time.”

Pink News has the list of MP’s who voted against marriage equality.

Now that the bill has passed the House of Commons, London Mayor Boris Johnson is urging the Tories to get together and finish the job. Pink News reports:

London Mayor Boris Johnson has called on the government to get the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill signed into law as soon as possible. ITV News reports the senior Conservative said: “Get it on the statute books and get on with it.” Mr Johnson has also called on fractious Tories to unite and target Labour.

Next, the bill goes to the House of Lords. Dot429 reports:

Support for marriage equality legislation is believed to be less certain in the Lords. Lord Geoffrey Dear, a prominent member of the chamber, stated last month that there was already “considerable opposition in the Lords” which could potentially derail the legislation. Lord Dear predicted there would be a “very close vote” on the Marriage Bill. “I am very concerned about the lack of process for legislation which is as cataclysmic and knee-jerk as this,” Lord Dear told 429Magazine. “To pretend the word [marriage] is the same for something with fundamental biological or physiological differences is muddling up sameness and equality,” he added.

Anyone hear when the House of Lords may take up the bill?


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