LONDON — The upper chamber of the British parliament, the House of Lords, voted Tuesday to back the government plans to legalize same-sex marriage in England and Wales.
The Lords voted by 390 votes to 148 — an overwhelming majority of 242 — to reject an attempt by Lord Geoffrey Dear to defeat the bill at second reading.
The bill would allow couples, who can currently form civil partnerships, to marry.
LGBT advocates outside the British parliament greeted the news with cheers.
The House of Lords had spent the last two days debating the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, recently passed by the elected House of Commons.
During Monday’s debate, Baroness Liz Barker came out as lesbian publicly for the first time, telling colleagues, “Many years ago, I had the great good fortune to meet someone. She and I have loved each other ever since.”
Opponents of the marriage bill, including Lord Norman Tebbit and former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord George Leonard Carey, suggested that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy.
Conservative party member, Baroness Knight of Collingtree, said that being gay is akin to being blind, and stated that marriage equality is the the same as women having sperm and a man giving birth.
Sikh Lord Indarjit Singh of Wimbledon claimed the bill would “uncouple” a link between marriage child rearing, leading to the “neglect of our children.”
Prominent British LGBT activist Peter Tatchell, called the vote “a victory for love, marriage and equality.”
“We are another step closer to our goal of equal marriage,” said Tatchell. “It signals that the House of Lords accepts the principle that we should all be equal before the law.”
The bill applies only the England and Wales — Scotland is already in the process of legalizing marriage equality with a bill expected to be put to the vote later this year.
In Northern Ireland, lawmakers rejected a marriage equality draft bill, leaving it the only part of the United Kingdom with no plans to legalize same-sex marriage.
The bill will now go through further readings in Parliament before it can be approved by Queen Elizabeth II in a formality called “Royal Assent.”
Developing story, check back for updates.