UK: House of Lords Marriage Equality Debate Begins Today

Written by scott on June 3rd, 2013

LondonOver in the United Kingdom, the House of Lords is getting ready to debate the marriage equality bill for England and Wales, with a vote planned for tomorrow. Gay Star News reports:

It is set to be a stormy debate with 80 peers due to speak. But it will give opponents and gay marriage supporters the chance to debate the broad principle of marriage equality. Campaigners for marriage equality remain confident about the process but warn it will be historically tight.

Bishops who make up 26 members of the Hosue of Lords are trying to duck being blamed if the bill fails to pass by abstaining:

As the Lords argue the merits of the bill over two days that will culminate in a crunch vote at around 5pm on Tuesday (4 June), bishops have been told to abstain from voting to avoid being singled out and blamed should the bill not pass. The Telegraph reports bishops are being urged not to submit a vote for gay marriage, for fears that there could be a backlash against the church that may call into question bishops’ right to sit in the House of Lords. One senior official said to The Telegraph: ‘What they are scared of is that this goes down by a few votes and then the bishops are seen as having swung the vote.’

Pam’s House Blend reports that we’re now up to 94Lords who want to speak on the bill – the last count we saw was 80:

Today promises a marathon debate in the British House of Lords, as 94 Lords have signed up to speak on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill during the Second Reading debate.

Opponents will try once again to kill the bill with an amendment. The Independent reports:

Opponents of the Same Sex Couples Bill will force peers to vote on Tuesday on a “fatal motion” to kill off the Bill before it is even considered in detail by the Lords. Should the attempt succeed, David Cameron will be placed in the contentious position of forcing through the Bill with a rare use of the Parliament Act or abandoning the current legislation altogether.

Speaking of Amendments, the Archbishop of Canterbury is likely to try to tack on some additional religious protections to the bill. Pink News reports:

In the upcoming vote on equal marriage legislation in the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury will call for concessions to be made for teachers and faith schools, as the Church of England has reportedly “resigned” itself to same-sex marriage becoming law. The Sunday Times reports that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, plans to use his stand in the House of Lords to call for the bill to explicitly protect faith schools and teachers from prosecution, if they do not wish to promote marriage equality.

Pink News reports that marriage equality supporters plan a rally outside of Parliament this evening:

Supporters of marriage equality will rally outside the House of Lords from 5.30pm this evening, as peers debate the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. Campaigners will gather by the statue of George V in Old Palace Yard, Westminster, diagonally opposite the main entrance to the House of Commons. Several MPs and Lords are expected to attend the rally and speak.

A number of former Tory Cabinet Members are urging the Lords to pass the bill. Pink News reports:

With the House of Lords debating the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill on Monday afternoon, several former Conservative cabinet ministers – including three former health secretaries – have each given their firm backing to the measure in an open letter to the Times newspaper. Former health secretaries Lord Fowler and Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone, who is married to the Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley – another supporter of equal marriage – have each signed the letter.

The article above also has the text of the letter.

One Bishop in the Church of England is warning that the marriage equality bill could make the Queen break a vow to God. Or something like that. Pink News reports:

Dr Michael Nazir Ali said the Queen vowed when she was crowned 60 years ago to “uphold the laws of God”… “The idea of a constitutional monarchy comes from the Bible. Christians are told in the Bible to obey their rulers, unless the ruler tells us to do something God forbids. “Happily in this country we have a monarchy that has taken an oath of upholding God’s laws, and the present Queen has for years been faithful to that. We are praying that she continues to be faithful.” “That puts the onus on the prime minister not to put the Queen into a position where she may have to go against the sovereign promises she has made. We hope that she is not put in that position.”

I think the Queen long ago proved she’s an adult and can take care of herself without the good Bishop’s protection.

We’ll see what happens over the next two days – with any luck, England and Wales will become the next places to enjoy full marriage equality.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in the United Kingdom.


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