British House Of Commons Approves Same-Sex Marriage

After a contentious debate and rebellion by a faction of David Cameron’s Conservative Party, the British House of Commons gave its final approval to a bill legalizing same-sex marriage:

The House of Commons has voted to allow gay marriage in England and Wales, despite 161 MPs opposing the government’s plans.

Several Tory MPs spoke against the proposals, which have caused tensions in the party, but the Labour and Lib Dem leaderships backed them.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill now goes before the House of Lords.

David Cameron hopes it will become law soon, with the first ceremonies taking place by next summer.

The bill, if passed, will allow same-sex couples, who can currently hold civil ceremonies, to marry.

Religious organisations would have to “opt in” to offering weddings, with the Church of England and Church in Wales being banned in law from doing so.

Welsh Secretary David Jones and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson voted against the government’s bill at its third reading. They were joined by 10 junior ministers.

Altogether 133 Tories opposed the bill, along with 15 Labour MPs, four Lib Dems, eight Democratic Unionists and an independent.

It goes to the House of Lords on Wednesday, where it is expected to generate further heated discussion.

Tensions between Downing Street and grassroots Conservatives, which have focused on the issue of Europe in recent weeks, have been exacerbated by the same-sex marriage proposals.

But Culture Secretary Maria Miler said it was an issue of equality, to which MPs had to show their “commitment”.

For Labour, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Let’s celebrate, not discriminate. Let’s put aside the anger and hear it for the joy.”

In general, the House of Lords has little ability to block legislation, although it does have the ability to delay or amend it under some circumstances. So, it seems unlikely that passage by the House of Lords is very much in doubt. There may be some question about when it will happen, but it’s clear that same-sex marriage will soon be legal in England and Wales  Scotland is not covered, presumably, because of the greater amount of home rule that the Scottish Parliament has been given in recent years.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Stonetools says:

    David Cameron , the Conservative Party leader, favored same sex marriage. See how things work when you have a REASONABLE Conservative Party and not the barking mad nut cases that we have in the Republican Party?

  2. wr says:

    @Stonetools: I like your definition of a reasonable conservative — someone who doesn’t care who you have sex with as long as he can destroy the economy and transfer the nation’s wealth from the poor and middle class to the super rich.

  3. André Kenji De Sousa says:

    @Stonetools: To be fair, Cameron faced rebellions by back benchers from his own party, not only on same sex marriage but on the EU(As Jeremy Paxton noted, the most powerful politician in the UK did not control his own party). And he faces a threat in the form of a the Ukip, a fair right party that´s gaining momentum with the insatisfaction with the major parties.

  4. Hortensio says:

    I’d presumed that Scotland isn’t covered because they’ve largely got to keep their own legal tradition since the 1707, whereas Wales’ was directly integrated with England some time before that.

  5. roger says:

    So now the Westboro Church knows who to blame and why if a tornado strikes somewhere in England.

  6. george says:

    Most conservative parties in the world are to the left of the Democrats in America. For instance, Britain, Canada and Germany’s are all for a public health option (as in single payer) alongside a private system.

    America has its own definition of conservative which has very little to do with either the history of the word, or the rest of the world.