British lawmakers vote in favour of bill legalizing same-sex marriages

A bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Britain cleared a major hurdle Tuesday, as lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favour of the proposals championed by Prime Minister David Cameron. The vote in the House of Commons — 400 to 175 in support of the proposed legislation — will be followed by more detailed parliamentary debates. The proposals also require the approval of the House of Lords before they become law.

LONDON — A bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Britain cleared a major hurdle Tuesday, as lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favour of the proposals championed by Prime Minister David Cameron.

The vote in the House of Commons — 400 to 175 in support of the proposed legislation — will be followed by more detailed parliamentary debates. The proposals also require the approval of the House of Lords before they become law.

The process could take months, but if approved, the bill is expected to take effect in 2015 and enable same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies, provided the religious institution consents. The bill also lets couples who had previously entered into civil partnerships convert their relationship into a marriage.

“Tonight’s vote shows Parliament is very strongly in favour of equal marriage,” Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said. “I genuinely believe that we will look back on today as a landmark for equality in Britain.”

The lopsided vote was a qualified victory for Cameron, with around half of his party’s lawmakers rejecting the proposals or abstaining. Nonetheless, strong support from the left-leaning Labour Party and Liberal Democrats party ensured the Commons approval.

After the ballots were counted, Cameron acknowledged that “strong views exist on both sides,” but said the result was a “step forward for our country.”

Officials have stressed that all religious organizations can decide for themselves if they want to “opt in” to holding gay weddings. However, the Church of England, the country’s official faith, is barred from performing such ceremonies.

That provision aims to ensure that the Church, which opposes gay marriage, is protected from legal claims that as the official state religion it must marry anyone who requests it.

Currently, same-sex couples only have the option of a civil partnership, which offers the same legal rights and protections on issues such as inheritance, pensions, and child maintenance.

Supporters say that gay relationships should be treated exactly the same way as heterosexual ones, but critics worry that the proposals would change long-standing views about the meaning of marriage. Some Conservatives also fear the proposals would cost the party a significant number of votes in the next general election.

“Marriage is the union between a man and a woman, has been historically, remains so. It is Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian almost, for any government of any political persuasion to seek to come along and try to re-write the lexicon,” Conservative lawmaker Roger Gale said.

The bill’s provisions apply only to England and Wales — there are no plans for similar legislation in Northern Ireland. Scotland is considering introducing a similar bill.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Updated: Red Deer doctor killed at clinic

The RCMP’s major crimes unit is investigating a fatal attack on a… Continue reading

Vigil scheduled Friday for Red Deer doctor who was killed

A candlelight vigil is scheduled for Friday at Red Deer City Hall… Continue reading

Alberta reports 257 new cases of COVID-19

The Alberta government reported 257 new cases of COVID-19 in its latest… Continue reading

‘Is this a town garden?’ Sylvan Lake resident has been gardening for 7 decades

Most summer days, Sylvan Lake’s Joel McCutcheon is in his garden pulling… Continue reading

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Cast your votes for Best of Red Deer

The Advocate’s Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are back. Community… Continue reading

Canada ‘deeply concerned’ by crackdown in Belarus, says Champagne

Canada ‘deeply concerned’ by crackdown in Belarus, says Champagne

‘Soulmates:’ People in Manitoba town struggle after tornado kills young couple

‘Soulmates:’ People in Manitoba town struggle after tornado kills young couple

Canada to match donations to Lebanon relief

Canada to match donations to Lebanon relief

Police investigating after insults, expletives yelled at federal minister’s staff

Police investigating after insults, expletives yelled at federal minister’s staff

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Quebec makes masks mandatory for students Grade 5 and up, except in classrooms

Quebec makes masks mandatory for students Grade 5 and up, except in classrooms

Singer Salome Bey, known as Canada’s first lady of the blues, dies at age 86

Singer Salome Bey, known as Canada’s first lady of the blues, dies at age 86

Most Read