Thursday, June 06, 2013

House of Lords Advances Marriage Equality With 390-148 Vote

Good news from across the pond! Marriage equality is almost certainly going to become law in Great Britain by the end of the year thanks to a vote in the House of Lords rejecting a poison pill amendment by the vote of 148-390, demonstrating overwhelming support for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in England and Wales.

The Guardian reports:
The Lords voted by 390 votes to 148 to reject an attempt by Lord Dear, a crossbencher, to defeat the bill at second reading. It is very unusual for the Lords to block a bill at second reading and some peers may have been voting against Dear because they were opposed to the idea of the Lords trying to obstruct legislation in this way, not because they were great supporters of the bill. But the size of the majority means the bill must now be certain to become law. However, it is still likely that attempts will be made to amend it in the Lords, in particular to strengthen the protection available to churches who do not want to conduct gay weddings. Lady Stowell, a government whip, told peers in her wind-up speech that the government would not necessarily object to amendments of this kind.
Additionally, the primary opponent to the legislation, the Church of England has announced that in light of the overwhelming support for marriage equality in both Houses of Parliament they will cease their opposition and concentrate on improving the bill instead of stopping it.
“Both Houses of Parliament have now expressed a clear view by large majorities on the principle that there should be legislation to enable same-sex marriages to take place in England and Wales. It is now the duty and responsibility of the Bishops who sit in the House of Lords to recognise the implications of this decision and to join with other Members in the task of considering how this legislation can be put into better shape. 
“The concerns of many in the Church, and in the other denominations and faiths, about the wisdom of such a move have been expressed clearly and consistently in the Parliamentary debate. For the Bishops the issue now is not primarily one of protections and exemptions for people of faith, important though it is to get that right, not least where teaching in schools and freedom of speech are concerned. 
“The Bill now requires improvement in a number of other key respects, including in its approach to the question of fidelity in marriage and the rights of children. If this Bill is to become law, it is crucial that marriage as newly defined is equipped to carry within it as many as possible of the virtues of the understanding of marriage it will replace. Our focus during Committee and Report stages in the coming weeks and months will be to address those points in a spirit of constructive engagement.

Rule, Britannia!

Hat/tip to Joe.My.God

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