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UK Marriage Equality Bill Clears Final Hurdle

Jim Burroway

July 16th, 2013

It’s a done deal. The House of Commons gave its final approval to the bill after minor changes were made by the House of Lords, which approved the bill on Monday. But not before marriage equality opponents tried a last ditch effort to ditch the bill:

Conservative MP David Burrowes had tabled an amendment and was today once again accused of trying to delay implementation of the bill. Pro-equal marriage MPs padded out their speeches so that Mr Burrowes could not propose his amendment.

The amendment he tabled sought to force the government to hold individual public consultations for changes to secondary legislation.

The bill now goes to the Queen for Royal Assent. No monarch has withheld Royal Assent since 1708.

Same-sex marriages are expected to begin in the spring or summer in 2014 in England and Wales only. Legislation to allow marriage equality in Scotland is in its initial stages. There are currently no efforts underway as yet to institute marriage equality in Northern Ireland.

(By the way, when I went to Google Images looking for an appropriate image for this post, I typed “Big Ben Gay” into the search box. This image popped up, accompanied by hundreds of results for Ben Cohen. Which is appropriate when you think about it, since today’s news clears just one more obstacle to our obvious destiny of wedded bliss together.)

Comments

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Sir Andrew
July 16th, 2013 | LINK

A great story and a great outcome.

Now: Would you please find a better flag pic for heading up these stories. That flag is upside down. According to its designer, Gilbert Baker, and the filings with the international group that handles flags and standards, the red stripe is always on top when presented horizontally, and on the left (to the viewer) when presented vertically. It shows disrespect to our community to display it upside down.

I know you found this on Google, but the person waving the flag has got it wrong.

occono
July 16th, 2013 | LINK

Maybe it’s actually the Peace Flag.

TampaZeke
July 16th, 2013 | LINK

Your headline is inaccurate as you explain in the body of your post. Since Scotland and Ireland don’t yet have marriage equality it wasn’t a UK marriage equality bill but rather a England and Wales marriage equality bill.

TampaZeke
July 16th, 2013 | LINK

Excuse me. Northern Ireland.

Timothy Kincaid
July 16th, 2013 | LINK

And the UK has gone and screwed up the numbering system. This vote makes England and Wales the 16th country to have marriage equality.

Kind of.

So when Scotland gets equality (on track for about a year behind England and Wales), do they get a whole number for themselves or are they grandfathered in to E&W? Maybe the 16 1/2th?

Lord_Byron
July 16th, 2013 | LINK

I’m just waiting for Ireland to get marriage equality. The Catholic Church went crazy in France over this and over abortion in Ireland imagine how much the catholic church would flip their shit if and when Ireland goes equality.

Andrew
July 17th, 2013 | LINK

Umm… I’m going to neither criticize the title or the flag. And I think Sir Andrew is being tongue-in-cheek? Deadpan gets me every time.

This is a great day!

Mark
July 17th, 2013 | LINK

Lord_Byron

There is massive public and govt support for gay marriage in the Republic of Ireland, but they have to amend their constitution first apparently and don’t know how long that takes or how easy it is.

the opposition to equal marriage in Northern Ireland comes from protestant fundie presbytarian types (the DUP). Sinn Fein (the major Catholic party) has always voted pro equal marriage.

also HURRAY!!! we will be converting our civil partnership into a marriage ASAP

MattNYC
July 17th, 2013 | LINK

There are some in the UK who can probably explain this…

I am not sure when it happened, but I know that Scotland was granted limited autonomy relatively recently. I wasn’t sure of the details, but I guess this type of law change is one of those things over which they retain separate rights.

I do know that “UK” includes Northern Ireland, so this is more a “modified Great Britain” :)

tavdy79
July 17th, 2013 | LINK

There are currently no efforts underway as yet to institute marriage equality in Northern Ireland.

Not entirely true, depending on which way you split the hair.

A Bill to legalise equal marriage failed at Stormont (NI legislature) only a few months ago. Since Sinn Fein is taking a very active stance on LGBT rights generally (e.g. their recent statements regarding Russian anti-gay laws) and on this issue in particular, it is only a matter of time before it comes up again.

One of the main reasons why it will sooner or later come up again (and I suspect sooner rather than later) is because it exposes a systemic problem with the way Stormont works, one which potentially makes it even more unworkable than US Congress. Ordinarily a legislative assembly requires a simple majority to pass a law – it’s a given for virtually every democratically elected legislature on the planet. Two notable exceptions are the US Senate, where a supermajority is required to end a filibuster, and Stormont, where majorities are needed in both Catholic/Nationalist and Protestant/Unionist blocs. This is like requiring majority support from both the GOP and the Dems, and since neither bloc has an outright majority in the Assembly, it allows less than a quarter of MLAs (26 for the Unionists, 22 for the Nationalists, out of 108 in total) to block legislation.

So simple majority support is irrelevant: majority support is also needed from the Unionists. Getting the current Pope to support gay marriage, abortion and women’s liberation would be both easier and more believable.

Since the Republic of Ireland is likely to legalise within the next few years, this causes a potential constitutional crisis as it means a minority group is blocking legislation favoured by not only a majority of MLAs (representatives in the Northern Ireland Assembly) but also the two national legislatures (Parliament and Oireachtas) with joint authority over the province.

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