Baroness Butler-Sloss has withdrawn her amendment and the House of Lords has adjurned. It will resume the debate on Marriage (Same Sex Couples) on Wednesday. We will be posting more detailed articles about a number of the key issues that have been debated over the next few hours and Tuesday morning.
Baroness Stowell uses a fictitious marriage between her and George Clooney to illistrate adultery. She said that if George Clooney had an affair with Baroness Thornton (her opposite number) it would be adultery, however if he had sex with Lord Alli (who was the first openly gay member of the House of Lords), it would not be adultery but instead unreasonable behaviour. Both are grounds for a divorce.
Baroness Stowell says that adultery as defined in case law can be anatomically be performed by a man and a woman
Baroness Stowell of Beeston, in discussing Baroness Butler-Sloss’s amendment, has expressed her gratitude that the peers have come to talk about the topics of consummation, adultery, and the specifics therein post watershed, in “compliance with broadcast regulations”.
Baroness Stowell jokes that she is grateful that peers are debating adultery after the watershed, in fact 3 1/4 hours after it begins.
Lord Debin (John Gummer) says that Baroness Butler-Sloss has reminded him of his mother explaining “what happens down there” when he was younger
Lord Alli says there is a problem with defining adultery within a lesbian relationship
Baroness Butler-Sloss is proposing an amendment on adultery and defining sexual acts
Peers have voted 84 to 15 to reject Lord Elton’s amendment that would force all couples in civil partnerships who wish to enter into a marriage to perform a new ceremony and exchange vows
Baroness Northover asks Lord Elton to withdraw his amendment and promises that a consultation will take place on how civil partnerships convert to a marriage
Lord Ali says that Lord Elton’s amendment is a lovely idea but it is not right to burden same-sex couples in a civil partnership to hold a new ceremony to undertake new vows in a marriage
Conservative Lord Elton says if same-sex couples will have to participate in a new ceremony to convert from a civil partnerships into a marriage. The government proposal says that couples can convert without new marriage vows.
John Gummer (Lord Deben) says that it would be ridiculous to protect a cook says her petit fours can not be used for a same-sex couple
Baroness Stowell convinces Lord Anderson to withdraw one of his amendments. He is now continuing with another one.
Baroness Stowell says that Lord Anderson’s amendments are not needed as the Employment Rights Act and the Equality Act protect those who have religious objections to same-sex marriage
Labour peer Lord Anderson is now introducing Amendment 49, another attempt to protect employees from having to promote same-sex marriage
Peers voted 163 to 32 to reject Lord Dear’s amendment that would have ‘protected’ teachers from having to ‘promote’ same-sex marriage
Lord Dear’s amendment said that teachers can still express their personal views about marriage, and stops them being under any obligation to support same sex marriage
Peers are now voting on Lord Dear’s amendment relating to ‘protecting’ teachers from promoting homosexuality
Baroness Stowell, nothing in the view says that anyone must change their view that marriage is between a man and a woman
Baroness Barker says that Lord Dear’s amendment on the ‘promotion of same-sex relationships’ by teachers, raises echoes of times past- Section 28
Labour Lords leader Baroness Royall dismisses Lord Dear’s amendments and says that all teachers must ‘teach the law of the land’, i.e. that gay couples can marry (once the law changes)
Lord Dear is referring to a ComRes poll commissioned by the anti-gay Coalition for Marriage
Lord Dear is now proposing his latest amendments, this time about teachers
The vast majority of the ‘wasting time’ amendments by Lord Mackay have not been moved
Lib Dem whip, Baroness Northover is introducing government amendments that make minor changes to clarify how buildings and the Church of Wales register to hold same-sex marriages
The amendments 9 and 10 that have been passed tighten up the definition of the word ‘compelled’ in the Bill
Amendments 9 and 10 have been passed
Baroness Berridge is withdrawing her amendments that relate compulsion for conducting same-sex marriages
Lords are currently debating ‘compulsion’ in relation to the marriage of solemnising same-sex couples
A review of Humanist weddings has now been included into the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
Conservative minister Baroness Stowell to Labour’s Baroness Thornton, “Right back at ya!” for praise for cross party collaboration on Humanist weddings consultation
Baroness Glenys Thornton, the Shadow Minister for Equalities has welcomed the Government’s amendment to conduct a review into Humanist weddings
Baroness Stowell: Commercial organisations will not be allowed to solemnise marriages if Humanists are allowed to solemnise marriages and if other groups are also allowed to do so
Baroness Stowell is proposing an amendment to provide for a review of Humanist weddings
The lords are soon to break from the same-sex couples bill for a dinner time debate.
More updates coming later.
Baroness Stowell of Beeston: “This bill doesn’t just allow same-sex couples to marry. It also protects religious freedom.”
She also says that they risk getting into dangerous protection getting into the territory about what beliefs are protected by state and law. “It would be an impossible task to list beliefs that are protected.”
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon says this is different from the registrar amendment because this is purely about freedom of belief and freedom of expression.
Lord Deben: “Nobody knows what people really mean by ‘traditional marriage.’” It is a blunderbuss, he says.
He says it is intolerable to legislate an act for anything which a bill does not make a reference to.
He adds, you cannot undermine the value of the bill by putting into it a phrase which disagrees with its very proposal.
Lord Cormack is now introducing his amendment to Lord Dear’s amendment.
Lord Dear: “This bill will pass.”
But he urges that it should come in through a climate of acceptance and tolerance of different views.
Lord Dear: “It takes away nothing for what this bill stands for to include this amendment.”
Amendment 4 put forward for the protection for the belief in “traditional marriage,” and the 3rd grouping of amendments.
Not Content wins the vote. Amendment 3 not passed.
Content or not content? A majority have spoken not content.
The Lords are now gathering to vote on amendment 3.
Lord Wallace of Tankerness: “In registration services we leave our beliefs at home.”
“At the end of the day, the principle should be when someone performs a function on behalf of the state, it should not discriminate.”
Lord Wallace of Tankerness: If a doctor was to say “I’m not going to perform the abortion on this person, based on race or belief, but I will perform this abortion on another” this makes the point more clear.
“It is a matter of discrimination,” he stresses.
Baroness Thornton reminds the House that registrars are not actually asking for a conscience clause.
Baroness Thornton says this is not about “tolerance and generosity”. She says that those who have supported this bill have already shown enormous generosity to views that are not only offensive, but hurtful, to gay people.
Lord Touhig: “Tolerate everyone. Tolerate everything. But do not tolerate the intolerant.”
Baroness Barker: “Registrars don’t just officiate at weddings. They register births and deaths.”
What this means is that some registrars would be impelled to do what they “cannot” do to a proficient degree.
Baroness Noakes says it is not tasteful to compare what happened in the abortion act to what the bill is proposing today.
“This is another attempt to undermine the status of the marriages of same-sex couples.”
Lord Walton says it could be seen, by some, that doctors who refused abortions “were not doing their jobs.”
But he said, it was proper for doctors to refuse to do abortions on religious grounds.
“This is a very simply amendment. It is an amendment to protect those still in service. Once they have retired, it will no longer be an issue.”
Baroness Howarth of Breckland makes the argument that “what if the registrar found out that one of the people they were marrying was a pedophile? Have they not the right to opt out on that basis?”
Lord Peston says that this is nothing to do with tolerance. He says it is not like the Stalinist endeavour to change one’s mind on same sex marriage. “All we are asking them to do is the job we are paying them to do.”
Lord Vinson: “I wouldn’t want to be married by a registrar who did so through gritted teeth.”
Lord Mawhinney says that the respect for opposition to equal marriage should be demonstrated by the acceptance of the amendment.
Baroness Berridge calls the amendment a sensible and reasonable compromise for what is not a perfect solution on either side.
Baroness Berridge: “A number of individual registrars who are in post did indeed contact their MPs stating they would resign their post if these laws were to come into effect.”
She says that there is a difference between choice and conscience. Conscience means that they “cannot” even make a choice in the first place.
Against Lord Pannick’s “absolutist” comparison between a judge’s duties and a registrar’s duties, Lord Anderson says that Doctors and teachers are both “public officials” in the broadest definition.
Lord Anderson: “We’re talking about tolerance. We’re talking about generosity.” What is certain, he says, is that the registrar losing his job is as much a victim of the same-sex couple who are not registered.
Bishop Chester says that the idea that anyone who is opposed to same-sex marriage is de facto homophobic destroys any opportunity for a reasonable debate.
Lord Higgins, referring to same-sex marriage: “No one was envisaging this. Indeed, a lot of people said it was not going to happen.”
Baroness Knight: “All Catholic adoption agencies have had to close because they are not happy about having to put a child in a home with a same-sex couple.”
She says that more and more the permission of one person’s human rights to another’s human rights. She compares the conscientious objection of registrars to the conscientious objectors of world war I.
Lord Cormack says there is a difference between racism and the “deeply held belief” of religious intolerance.
Lord Alli: “This is not a religious ceremony. It is a civil ceremony.”
“You have to divide church and state.”
Lord Alli reminds the House of Lords that we all pay for the services provided by registrars. We should all be afforded the same rights to them.
Lord Deben: “I think toleration is about being prepared to tolerate things with which we do not agree.”
He says that the judge’s job is to continuously interpret the law. It is perfectly proper to insist that they should use their technical ability to oppose things they do not agree.
Registrars never thought that this change would take place, he insists.
Lord Pannick: “I cannot accept that a public official is entitled to protection from his basic duty to perform a public obligation.”
A judge or a magistrate cannot refuse to appoint a law to which he disagrees with, he reminds the Lords.
The difference between this and abortion is that the registrar is performing the function of the state. The function of the state is to marry people.
“No one is asking them is to approve of same-sex marriage. All we are asking them to do is undertake the contractual function they have agreed to perform.”
Baroness Butler-Sloss: “Marriage registrars carry out a particularly attractive job.” She says that she hopes that the marriage of same-sex couples will be given the same amount of enthusiasm by registrars that she has already witnessed.
She says, however, that for many registrars who started years ago, the concept of same-sex marriage was but a blink on the horizon.
“This is a small and special group,” she says, claiming that these registrars are minorities.
Baroness Cumberlege says that being a registrar is a very crucial step towards public relations with all members of the community – including minorities.
“There are some religions, which for deeply held principles, cannot accept a single sex marriage, including the Muslim faith and orthodox christianity.” She argues that these people should not be forced out of the service of being a registrar, especially those who have worked in an upright manner.
“Frankly I don’t understand why this fairly limited change could not be made easily.”
She reminds the House of Lords: Registrars will be able to only object to same-sex marriages, not interracial marriages.
“Our amendment will not allow registrars to object to more than a conducted marriage.”
She allegorises a doctor’s right not to give contraceptive advice, and the right of a Sikh not to wear a motorcycle helmet.
Baroness Cumberlege: “Nothing in this amendment will prevent couples of the same sex from marrying.”
Amendment 3 put forward for the protection of registrars in their opting out of same-sex marriage.
Final vote: The Not-contents have it. Amendment not moved.
The Lords are gathering in order to vote on the amendment’s passing.
Content or not content? The Not-contents have it.
Lord Mackay says that important distinctions should be recognised, “brackets or otherwise.”
Lord Mackay says that the amendment is founded on absolute fact between the difference of same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples.
Baroness Stowell says that gay people do not want to change the institution of marriage in any way.
“We don’t want to open another door which says ‘same-sex couples’. There will be only one door.”
Baroness Stowell says that the reasons gay and lesbians want to settle down are for exactly the same reasons that opposite-sex couples choose to marry.
In response to the discussion of children, she says that the children of same-sex couples will be able to enjoy the same status as any other children. “This is a fantastic thing!”
Baroness Stowell: “We want gay and lesbian couples to be a part of the marriage institution in the same way.” She says that what the amendments do is undermine the fundamental purpose of this bill.
Baroness Thornton: “This is probably going to be known as the brackets amendment.”
Baroness Howarth of Breckland says that the only thing gay and lesbian people want is to be treated as ordinary.
“It means sharing with your fellows on an equal basis. Gay and lesbian people do not want brackets.”
She begs for common decency.
Lord West of Spithead: “I really do think this is a wrecking amendment, I am afraid.”
“Every single marriage is different. Will it demean my marriage? Not at all.”
Lord Davies of Coity says that this amendment protects children. He says the Bill gives gay people what they want: “They can have it!”
Professor Robert Winston from Children of Our Time says that children with same-sex parents are better off.
Lord Elystan-Morgan: “I have argued a great deal with myself over the past few weeks as to where I stood on this matter. Does it in any any way change or demean my own marriage?”
He says that gay people have been treated disgracefully by religions, and everything religion is supposed to have stood for has been undermined in that respect.
Lord Fowler cites the stonewall survey: “two and a half million people of working age have witnessed verbal homophobic bullying at work.”
He says that the Bill should not be to underline differences.
Lord Fowler: “Of course it is true that homosexuality is no longer a criminal offense, but let no one mistake that homophobia is in any way gone from the United Kingdom.”
He says we have a “mountain of prejudice” to overcome.
Lord Deben says he has a huge problem with the creation of babies in a world in which the number of unadopted children is a huge problem.
He insists: “It isn’t about children.”
Lord Deben: “This country has had a terrible history in the way it has treated gay and lesbian people.”
Lord Deben mocks the amendment’s proposal by giving an example of approaching the registry office: “Am I going for marriage lite, or am I going for this marriage or that marriage?”
“I just beg the house to realise that if we accept the proposal, then we are actually undermining the whole purpose of this bill. In that sense, it is a wrecking amendment.”
Lord Deben cites Jonathan Swift’s “modest proposal” with regards to the amendment.
Lord Alli says that same-sex couples do not want their unions to be bracketed.
“Why do you want to pick out gay couples in such a public and conspicuous way?” he interrogates.
He says that the proposed amendment is just a further measure, in a long line of efforts, to preserve inequality. “I hope this amendment will be defeated. Two classes of marriage, no matter how well disguised, is the very opposite of this bill’s intentions.”
Unwittingly echoing Jonathan Swift, Lord Cormack calls the amendment a “modest proposal.”
Lord Cormack says that the sole purpose of the amendment is to promote equality while acknowledging that there is a difference.
“We have conceded on the word marriage – that will go into the dictionary, with its new definitions.”
Lord Cormack: “All that this amendment does is repeat certain words in the bill.” That is, he claims, that there is a difference between a same-sex union and an opposite-sex union.
Lord Mackay insists that his amendment will not detract from Lord Pannick’s definition of the bill.
Lord Pannick: “Since the very purpose of this bill is to recognise same-sex marriages in the same way as the voluntary union between a man and a woman, it would be churlish to take away this aspect through an amendment.”
He says that the whole point of this bill is to “implement the principle that a same-sex marriage is a marriage with the same status and the same consequences as any other.”
Lord Waddington: “Many of us are surprised that the government has turned down every opportunity to retain the traditional view of marriage.”
He says that until recently it was “universally accepted” that marriage could only be between a man and a woman.
Bishop Chester refers to “biological differences between men and women” in order to defend his Catholic opposition to same-sex marriage.
Baroness Butler-Sloss asks “how on earth can anyone suggest anywhere” that there is one type of couple which is superior to another.
She says that the amendment is a very “cleverly worded” amendment.
“There is some misunderstanding about the impact of same-sex marriage on child development,” prattles Earl Listowel.
He says there is yet to be data on such impacts.
Lord Lester says the Bill should protect both the equality of same-sex couples as well as the traditional views of church institutions.
He says it is “essential” to ensure that the marriage of same-sex couples is not to be seen as inferior to opposite-sex couples, which is why he opposes the amendment.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill says that marriage is “intrinsically linked to reproduction and biological procreation.”
Lord Anderson of Swansea says he wishes he had thought of the amendment himself.
He claims that “traditional marriage” has existed since time immemorial. “For some…marriage is a sacrament which has existed for many years,” and it is not simply a “set of vows” committed between two people.
“Same sex marriages cannot be the same as traditional marriages,” he stresses.
Lord Mackay includes himself as part of a group called “ordinary people” who are opposed to the bill.
Lord Mackay says that “traditional marriage” is a valuable asset to the bringing up of children.
Lord Mackay of Clashfern: “There is a fundamental difference” between the two marriages, especially for children who are born to same-sex couples.
The House of Lords Debate has begun.
Amendment 1 put forward for marriage terminology – whether there should be a distinction between ‘same-sex couples’ and ‘opposite sex couples’
The House of Lords debate on same-sex marriage is set to begin at 15:00.