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United Kingdom

British parliament gives final approval to same-sex marriage bill

Bill heads to Queen Elizabeth II for 'royal assent'
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

LONDON — The lower chamber of the British parliament, the House of Commons, on Tuesday evening gave final approval to a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in England and Wales.

The measure, first approved in Commons on May 21, was approved by the upper chamber, the House of Lords on Monday. The bill returned to Commons for approval of amendments added by the Lords.

This bill now heads to Queen Elizabeth II to sign it into law, a formality known as Royal Assent, which is expected to come later in the week.

The bill will enable gay couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies in England and Wales. It also will allow couples who had previously entered into a civil partnership to convert their relationship to a marriage.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told supporter celebrating outside Parliament that the new law would ensure LGBT people felt “recognized and valued, not excluded.”

“Extending marriage to same sex couples changes nothing in respect of freedom of speech … this is why further changes to the law are not necessary and could indeed be harmful, by casting doubts where non currently exist,” Clegg said, noting that the bill was a mark of “the kind of open, modern, tolerant and diverse society we want Britain to be in the 21st Century.”

Opponents of same-sex marriage warned that the Government’s backing of the bill would “come back to bite” British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Opposition to the bill was particularly vocal by the right of the ruling Conservative (Tory) Party and some religious leaders who decried the measure, saying that it would intrude on religious freedoms in the United Kingdom.

Conservative MP, David Burrowes said the bill “encroaches on religious liberty,” while colleague Gerald Howarth, MP for Aldershot, called it a “disgrace” and “offending large swathes of the conservative party.”

“I am utterly and irredeemably opposed to the passing of this bill that would have serious unintended consequences, “ Howarth said. “This bill is built entirely on pretense, that there is no difference between man and woman.”

Colin Hart of The Coalition for Marriage, an interfaith anti-gay marriage campaign group, said Cameron “needs to remember that the Coalition for Marriage has nearly 700,000 supporters, nearly six times the number of members of the Conservative Party.”

“They are just ordinary men and women, not part of the ruling elite. They are passionate, motivated and determined to fight on against a law that renders terms like husband and wife meaningless and threatens one of the foundations of the institution of marriage: fidelity and faithfulness,” he said.

UK Culture Minister Maria Miller, who led the fight for passage of the bill, said, “The title of this bill might be marriage but its fabric is about freedom and respect, freedom to marry regardless of sexuality or gender, but also freedom to believe that marriage should be of one man and woman and not be marginalized.”

“Clear affirmation that as a nation respect for each and every individual is paramount, regardless of ages, religion, gender, ethnicity and sexuality,” said Miller.

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29 more reader comments:

  1. And some nice man better send me a diamond ring tomorrow!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 8:32pm
  2. ….God Save the Queen!…..:D

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 8:33pm
  3. Yay!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 8:35pm
  4. +10 points to the UK!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 8:35pm
  5. Now if only the U.S. would get it´s head out of it´s ass!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 8:36pm
  6. The U.S will always have it´s head up it´s ass, It´s too far up there to ever come out.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 8:40pm
  7. Thanks for intelligence over the pond

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 8:43pm
  8. Laine Barringer Ben Griffiths Tahnee Derham

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 8:43pm
  9. I think we need the House of Lords to make a visit to our Congress and tell them what there doing is wrong. Maybe they will learn a lesson or two.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 8:47pm
  10. Sadly the fight here is going to be state by state unless and until we can get a SCOTUS ruling overturning a state ban.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 8:53pm
  11. WTG, England and Wales! Now if only the US could get on the bandwagon of basic civil rights for everyone…

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 9:03pm
  12. Scotland is next… Wish I could say the same for the USA.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 9:13pm
  13. So um, anyone want to help me get there?

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 9:25pm
  14. Great news!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 9:55pm
  15. YIPPEEE!!!!!!!!! So happy for all my gay friends around the world… I have lived to see FREEDOM come for Gay men and Women, Trans people too… I seen blacks get their civil rights and now Homosexual men and women… joyous simply joyous…

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 10:54pm
  16. Long live Britain and the Old Queens…..maybe Prince Harry will come out now. :)

    Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 3:48am
  17. Yay!!(:

    Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 3:50am
  18. Spain, then France and now U.K. the big western European countries it´s a great step, now we only need Italy but being such a religious conservative country it´s unlikely to happen anytime soon :-(

    Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 3:52am
  19. hope so Keith

    Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 3:53am
  20. Proud of my homeland!

    Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 3:55am
  21. Hail the Queen!

    Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 4:16am
  22. It´s about time…Canada was way ahead of you!

    Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 4:43am
  23. They move much faster than our government

    Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 5:10am
  24. Great

    Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 5:47am
  25. Lets just hope the reaction is better than in France.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 8:04am
  26. While I am pleased that Britain will soon enshrine Same-Sex Marriage, it is now time for the Brits to use their influence in the Commonwealth to right a terrible wrong that has and continues still to destroy the lives of LGBT people around the world, the heinous colonial relic known as the Sodomy Law. “Half the world’s countries that criminalize homosexual conduct do so because they cling to Victorian morality and colonial laws.” http://www.hrw.org/news/2008/12/17/sodomy-laws-show-survival-colonial-injustice

    Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 9:24am
  27. sorry see eyes talk all love me

    Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 10:24am
  28. Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 12:59pm
  29. Such fantastic news.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 3:23pm