House of Lords approve same-sex marriage bill at third reading

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Members of the London Gay Men's Chorus outside Parliament to celebrate the passage at Third Reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.
Image: Tom Morris.
A religious protester outside Parliament.
Image: Tom Morris.
Ice cream and cake being handed out at the demonstration celebrating passage.
Image: Tom Morris.

Yesterday, the United Kingdom's House of Lords passed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at Third Reading, the last major step in changing the law to allow marriages between same-sex partners in England and Wales. The bill is to become law this week and same-sex marriage ceremonies are likely to start in 2014.

During the brief debate in the Lords, Peers supporting the law wore pink carnations. Lord Alli, who is openly gay, said because of passing the law "my life and many others will be better today than it was yesterday". The Lords discussed an amendment to review how to deal with survivor pension benefits due to the same-sex partners of those in civil partnerships. Other amendments the Lords have discussed include a review on whether to allow humanists to conduct weddings, and a review on whether to allow opposite-sex partners to enter into civil partnerships.

A handful of opponents of the Bill spoke during the debate including Lord Cormack, who said: "Those who support the Bill have won; there is no doubt about that. It would be churlish and ridiculous to pretend otherwise and I, for one, would never do so." Lord Framlingham criticised "the Government's complete rejection of any meaningful amendments" and said the Bill "is built entirely on pretence. It pretends that there is no difference between a man and a woman. From this deceit have sprung all the problems we have been wrestling with — problems we have failed to resolve and which will bedevil generations to come."

In summing up the debate, Baroness Stowell said: "I believe that we have brought forward a Bill that is a force for good and that the change it brings about is right and reflects the change in society. However, there is no question whatever that anybody who disagrees with it should in any way feel that their views have not been properly taken into account during our debates."

A group of supporters of the Bill held a celebration outside Parliament yesterday during the debate and carrying on into the evening. A small number of opponents of the Bill turned up to protest. The celebrations included musical performances by the London Gay Big Band and the London Gay Men's Chorus, and Ben & Jerry's provided free ice cream and cake.

A planned demonstration by Christian Concern was cancelled to "conserve energy" as "there will not be a vote at the third reading of the same sex marriage bill on Monday and what happens on that day in the House of Lords will be a mere formality".


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