Saturday, May 25, 2013

UK Marriage Equality Bill Now To House Of Lords

A marriage equality bill passed its 3rd (and final) reading in the British House of Commons this week by a vote of 366-161. According to an official summary of the legislation written by the Government, if it becomes law it will:

• provide that same sex couples can get married in England and Wales;
• provide that such marriages are to be treated the same as marriages between a man and a woman in England and Wales;
• permit marriage of same sex couples by way of a civil ceremony;
• permit marriage of same sex couples according to religious rites and usages where a religious organisation has opted in to that process (with the exception of the Church of England and the Church in Wales);
• provide a process by which the Church in Wales can request and obtain legislative change to allow marriages of same sex couples according to their rites if they wish to do so;
• provide that there will be no obligation or compulsion on religious organisations or individuals to carry out or participate in a religious marriage ceremony of a same sex couple;
• provide protection under equality law for religious organisations and individuals who do not wish to marry same sex couples in a religious ceremony.
The bill is now before the House of Lords, where it passed its first reading (equivalent to introduction) by voice vote and will have it second reading on June 3 with committee actions on June 17 and June 19. It is expected that heterosexual supremacists will try to derail the bill by getting unacceptable "poison pill" amendments added to the text of the legislation. However, it is possible that the British government can ignore any actions by the House of Lords by invoking the  Parliament Act.

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