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UK, England/Wales: House of Commons Gives Marriage Equality Bill Final Approval

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Big BenThe amended marriage equality bill got final approval in the House of Commons today. Gay Star News reports:

The lower house of British Parliament had a two-hour debate then approved the final changes to a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in England and Wales. The bill, passed in the House of Lords on Monday (15 July), only now must be signed by Queen Elizabeth II to become law. This is considered to be a formality.

The bill just needs the royal assent, which is expected later this week. But apparently same sex weddings won’t likely start until next summer.

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

UK, England: Marriage Equality Bill Passes Report Stage, Next Vote Monday

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

The Marriage equality bill for England and Wales passed the Report Stage, one of its final phases, yesterday. Now the House of Lords will give the bill its final reading early next week. Pink News reports:

It avoided amendments such as one from Lord Singh, which called for a referendum on equal marriage in October, and another which had been accused of attempting to allow faith schools to opt-out of teaching about same-sex marriage. As it is now in its final form, it will return to the House of Lords on Monday for a vote. If passed in its Third Reading, the bill will be different to that which passed in the House of Commons, so will return there to for approval.

Hopefully the House of Commons will then pass the bill as-is – otherwise, we have “parliamentary ping pong”, with the bill going back and forth until both houses agree, which could delay it until late this year. If it is approved, it will just need “royal assent” to become law, which would likely come over the summer. Fingers crossed.

UK Parliament Timeline

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

Tuesday, 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that would have reinstated marriages for transgender citizens who had them annulled to have reassignment surgery was withdrawn.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?

UK: Third Reading Vote Due Today on Marriage Equality Bill

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

LondonHaving survived a contentious day of debates and amendments, the marriage equality bill will be debated on some more today before receiving a third reading and final vote in the House of Commons.

Pink News is liveblogging the event.

Marriage quality opponents are not happy, including Lord Tebbit, who said the Prime Minister had “fucked up” by pushing the marriage equality bill. Gay Star News reports:

Gays marrying will lead to a lesbian queen giving birth to a future monarch by artificial insemination, a former Tory chairman has warned. Lord Tebbit, 82, also told the Big Issue magazine the legislation in England and Wales could also allow him to marry his son to escape inheritance tax. The life peer, who said Downing Street has ‘fucked up’ by moving forward on the legislation, said he had challenged a minister about legalizing same-sex marriage at the same time as they ended the rule that a son has preference over a daughter when choosing the next monarch. ‘I said to a minister I know: have you thought this through? Because you’re doing the law of succession, too,’ Tebbit said.

A group of British church leaders has written a letter to the Telegraph forecasting negative effects on the country’s Christian youth. Christian Today reports:

“If the Bill passes into law without much clearer protections for freedom of speech and freedom of belief, teachers and public-sector workers will have to choose between their conscience and their career, as many will be deterred from a public-service career or from charity involvement. The Bill is supposed to be pro-marriage, pro-equality and pro-diversity, yet, as drafted, it is none of those things. There will be anger and sadness, and this Bill will cause pain for many, without tackling prejudice against the few. We, and many young people in our congregations, are concerned about the consequences if it is passed in its current state.”

I’m sure there will be much more to report later as the debate continues and the vote is taken.

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

UK: Marriage Equality Bill Survives Amendment Onslaught

Monday, 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.

UK: Liberal Democrats To be Allowed to Vote Their Conscience on Marriage Equality

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

LondonLiberal MP’s will be allowed to vote freely in the third reading of the marriage equality bill. Pink News reports:

Liberal Democrat Voice reports at Tuesday’s parliamentary meeting of Lib Dem MPs, it was agreed that all would be given a free vote during next week’s Commons debate on a number of amendments to the bill. Previously, it was only agreed February’s second reading vote would be unwhipped… Mr Clegg signalled that he was now in favour of allowing his party’s MPs the freedom to vote with their conscience on the issue. “As I say, I’m not going to be illiberal in pushing through a liberal measure,” he said. “I just fully expect Liberal Democrat MPs will vote in favour of something that we have recently formally adopted as our party policy in the Liberal Democrats.”

In the second vote, four liberal MP’s went against their party to vote against the bill.

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

UK: Marriage Equality Bill To Be Debated In House Of Commons Starting May 20th

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

London BusThe UK’s gay marriage bill is finally back on the table, with debate planned in the House of Commons on May 20 and 21st. Pink News reports:

The bill’s remaining stages will be debated on 20 and 21 May, Leader of the Commons Andrew Lansley told MPs on Thursday. If the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is approved on 21 May, it will then pass to the Lords for further scrutiny. A group of MPs has been taking detailed evidence on the proposals in a public committee since February. The House of Commons Public Bill Committee received testimony from both advocates and critics of the bill.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is hopeful that gays and lesbians will be able to marry by this summer in the UK.

In recent weeks, Prime Minister David Cameron has once again been on the receiving end of criticism for pushing for marriage equality. Another such attack came yesterday from MP Dr. William McCrea, who sided the absence of the bill in the “Queen’s Speech” as an indication that the government was no longer pushing the marriage quality but so hard. Pink News reports:

In February, Conservative Equalities Minister Helen Grant dismissed this claim, saying: “It was in the Contract for Equalities that was published at the same time as the Conservative General Election manifesto. It was quite clear what our intentions may well be.” Downing Street said yesterday there was no need for the bill to be in the speech because it was a “carry-over” measure introduced midway through the last session.

McCrea went on to add:

“The prime minister should reflect on whether parliamentary time should be devoted to pushing through the redefinition of marriage. No party has a mandate for that change, and many Conservative activists who have deserted to UKIP have cited the government’s pushing that legislation through this Parliament as showing that they are out of touch with the day-to-day concerns of ordinary voters.”

And yet, marriage equality is a day to day concern for many ordinary gay and lesbian voters. And their families. And their close friends. Perhaps Dr. McCrea doesn’t count LGBT folks as constituents?

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

Canada: House of Commons Passes Transgender Rights Bill

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Canadian FlagAs the transgender rights movement moves to the forefront, Canada is leading the way (once again) with a transgender rights bill. Gay Star News reports:

Canada’s House of Commons has passed a bill making it illegal to discriminate against transgender people. The bill passed by a vote of 149 for and 137 against, with the crucial support of 16 Conservatives, including four cabinet ministers. Prime Minister Stephen Harper opposed the bill. The bill was now go before the Senate, which is unelected and expected to approve it.

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

Wednesday, 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.

UK: Marriage Equality Bill Introduced in House of Commons; Vote Due February 5th

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Parliament, LondonMembers of Parliament (MPs) will get to vote for the first time on gay marriage in England and Wales on 5 February.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was given its first reading in parliament today, a two-minute long formality with no debate. The bill was introduced by Maria Miller MP, Minister for Women and Equalities, in the House of Commons.

The leader of the Commons Andrew Lansley announced the first major debate will take place at the second reading on 5 February.

Authored By Tris Reid-Smith- See the Full Story at Gay Star News

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