Marriage Equality in the United Kingdom came a step closer on Tuesday Night when Members of Parliament voted to approve the Marriage (same-sex couples bill) at it’s third reading by 366 votes to 161, a majority of 205.
After two days of debate, with many amendments offered and discussed, the Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller told Mps just before the crucial vote “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. Let us not be side-tracked nor distracted. Let us not expand the remit of this bill beyond its original intention. Let us make equal marriage possible because it is the right thing to do and then let us move on. I am pleased to commend this bill to the House.”
It has been a most dramatic time at London’s House of Parliament, on Monday the bill was in danger of being completely stalled by an amendment from a backbench Tory MP, thankfully in a deal with the opposition leader Ed Miliband, they overcame the wrecking amendment, which was designed purly to slow up and even halt the bill in its
There were a few further complications on Tuesday afternoon because of an amendment calling for Humanist marriage ceremonies to be legalised at the same time. Even though it had widespread support from Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs – the amendment was withdrawn after the attorney general warned that it would fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Under the bill, the Church of England and the Church in Wales would be banned from offering same-sex marriages because of their strongly stated opposition, unless they changed canon law. Whilst other religious organisations would be able to “opt in” to holding same-sex ceremonies.
Marriage Equality and getting the bill passed the Commons has been an enormous challenge for the UK Prime Minister David Cameron and is seen by many as a key part of his modernisation of the Conservative party, giving it wider appeal to the younger generations. However, such a move has cost the leader support from many old guard in the party, MP Crispin Blunt conceded that it has cost Cameron support – “He’s made his point, everyone knows the fire he’s going through with some of his own colleagues in order to deliver this and I hope people are going to be appropriately grateful for the fantastic leadership that he’s shown on this.” he told gay media in the UK
In terms of the current opposition to the measure, Mr Blunt added: “Once this is done, it’s finished, it’s over and everyone will wonder what on earth all the fuss was about.”
The Bill will now head to the House of Lords where it is likely to face determined and uncompromising opposition. The House of Lord’s are the older unelected chamber in UK’s archaic political system and are well known for their opposition to such moves towards equality. If the bill passes in the House of Lords, it could mean that same-sex marriages could be legal in the UK as early as the autumn of 2014.