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UK Marriage Bill Clears Hurdle In House of Lords

Jim Burroway

June 4th, 2013

Following two days of debate, peers in the British House of Lords voted down a proposed wrecking amendment, 390 to 148. The Guardian notes that it is highly unusual to block a vote at second reading and that many of the votes in favor at this stage may merely be in indication by some that they oppose blocking the bill this way. Nevertheless, the  comfortable 242 vote margin bodes well for the bill now that it has been forwarded to the Committee Stage. There may still be amendments attached to the bill which would send it back to Commons, but at this stage it looks increasingly certain that the bill will make it into law before next summer.

During the debate, Lord Waheed Alli, an openly gay Muslim Labour peer, congratuated Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron for his “courageous” support for marriage equality:

“I ask you vote for this bill because everyone deserves the right to have their love recognised equally by the state.” Lord Alli added he was “proud” that “so many” Conservative MPs voted for the bill at last month’s third reading in the House of Commons. “There can be no doubt that David Cameron has shown a huge amount of personal courage”, he said.

…He spearheaded the campaign to repeal Section 28, which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools and also fought to equalise the age of consent. It was during a heated exchange with conservative opponents, led by Baroness Young, that he informed his fellow peers that he was gay in April 1999.

In yesterday’s debate, Baroness Liz Barker (Lib-Dem) spoke in favor of the bill and publicly came out of the closet at the same time:

The Liberal Democrat peer, who was among the first to speak, said she had to “declare an interest”. “Many years ago, I had the great good fortune to meet someone,” she said. “She and I have loved each other ever since.”

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