The House of Lords has now adjourned, and after a long two-days of Report stage debate, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is ready for its Third Reading on Monday.
Baroness Northover has introduced a typical tidying-up amendment, 23A ,which has been included in the bill.
The peers are now racing through other similar amendments.
The peers have just raced through some Government amendments.
Lord Singh has withdrawn his amendment to call for a referendum on equal marriage.
Lord Wallace says: “This bill is about putting right a wrong because we believe in the institution of marriage”, and calls for peers to reject the referendum amendment.
Lord Wallace commends David Cameron for speaking “with conviction” on equal marriage.
Lord Singh says he does not agree that the consultation on equal marriage was valid, because he thinks it was predetermined.
Lord Wallace disagrees, and says the Government engaged with the public, specifically noting the Sikh community.
Lord Wallace said the Government “does not believe that [a referendum] is a sensible course of action.”
Baroness Thornton has called the referendum amendment a “nonsense”.
Baroness Thornton is commending opposition to the equal marriage bill, for being so adamantly opposed to it.
She is opposed to the amendment, and is citing free votes in the House of Commons, at which equal marriage was passed.
Lord Norton of Louth is challenging claims that there is a “divide” on equal marriage, to say that generally speaking, neutrally worded questions show support in the mid 50s, and opposition in the mid 30s.
The Earl of Listowel is now speaking to say that it is important that there are “strong conservative voices” to stand up to “more modern” people, noting Lord Singh’s amendment.
Lord Martin says that the idea that the Parliamentary process is final in implementing a bill is not right, and says he supports the idea of a referendum.
Lord Martin of Springburn says it is “nice” that Lords Fowler and Waddington disagreed “so well” on the referendum amendment.
Lord Anderson seems to have suggested that the large majorities in favour of equal marriage in the House of Commons are irrelevant, in supporting Lord Singh’s referendum amendment.
Lord Anderson says the Government has “no mandate”, and criticises it for equal marriage not being in the manifesto.
He says there has been a “mass conversion” on the issue, in the same as an “African tribal leader who mas converts members of his tribe”.
Lord Pannick says: “Referendums should be confined to fundamental constitutional issues. This is not”.
Lord Alli said he does not want to help the Prime Minister get off his “hook”, but commends his bravery in bringing the bill forward.
He notes the free votes in which the equal marriage bill has passed through earlier stages with large majorities.
Lord Carlile joked that an agreement between UKIP and the Conservative Party might be regarded as a “same-sex marriage”.
He doubts Lord Singh’s adherence to the guidelines of speaking in the Lords, and saying that peers should reject the amendment.
Lord Waddington has blamed the introduction of equal marriage for UKIP gains in local elections.
Lord Waddington has said David Cameron has “impaled himself” on a hook by bringing the equal marriage bill forward, but that only a referendum would allow him to remove himself.
Lord Fowler is accusing Lord Singh of claiming that the Commons did not consider the arguments for a referendum, when really he is just opposed to the outcome of the debate.
Baroness Turner has said she gets the impression that “younger people are all in favour” of equal marriage, and that she thinks the majority of people are in favour.
She wrapped up: “We do not need a referendum/ It is really not a worthy amendment at all. Why on this bill? it is entirely discriminatory.”
Baroness Turner is speaking passionately about putting right the wrongs done to gay and lesbian people by moving towards equality. She said marriages between same sex couples are “lawful”, which she repeated twice.
Baroness Turner of Camden is speaking for the first time to say she is annoyed by Amendment 96, questioning why there is a sudden call for a referendum, despite there being no call for it before from Lord Singh.
Lord Singh of Wimbledon is tabling Amendment 96, which calls for a referendum on equal marriage in October.
The amendment would pause equal marriage even if it were to pass, until it was approved by a popular vote.
The Earl of Listowel has withdrawn Amendment 95a.
Baroness Stowell has said she will write a letter to the Earl of Listowel following the debate, but that the research his amendment calls for is too large for the bill.
Baroness Stowell says she thinks Amendment 95 is unnecessary, and has challenged the points made by the Earl of Listowel, because same-sex couples wishing to have children take the decision “perhaps more” seriously than straight couples, because it has to be a conscious decision.
“When gay couples decide to have a child, or children, the decision very obviously is a conscious one, it has to be. So therefore it’s very safe for us to assume that, having made that decision they will be very conscious about the needs of that child.”
Lord Pannick questions why Amendment 95a is suddenly an issue, as children already have same-sex parents in civil partnerships. He suggests that it is just an issue with opposition to equal marriage.
Baroness Thornton says there is absolutely no need for Amendment 95a to be attached to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.
Baroness Brinton has said society is obsessed with the idea of “normal” families, but that children all know that their peers come from same-sex, or single parent families.
She says: “there is really strong evidence that children thrive in that sort of same-sex relationship.
Lord Alli has also cited “Research on children being raised by people who are gay. There is now a large body of evidence which shows that on average such children do better than children who are born in the normal way of current marriage.”
Lord Alli compared the Earl of Listowel to Tony Benn for his power of persuasion, and the nature of his speech, despite not agreeing with what he says.
Lord Alli says he strongly disagrees with Amendment 95a.
The Baroness, who came out during the earlier debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, says: “I want to agree with him only to the extent that it is important that in future that there be research into the affects of this bill, and into families which come into being when this bill is passed.
“I disagree with him because I detected in what he said, that he starts from a base position that somehow he believes this is going to be bad
“I believe that this is a very hopeful bill. A bill that will bring a great deal of stability to families who have not had stability until now. “
She said that when she was at school nobody talked about being gay, she said it was mentioned “at best as a joke”.
Baroness Barker has risen to strongly oppose amendment 95a, in the name of acceptance of same-sex couples.
Perhaps the Earl of Listowel has forgotten that the peers are debating equal marriage, and that gay couples getting married probably intend their relationships not to be “brief”.
The Earl of Listowel continues that: “We know that male same-sex relationships can be brief”, and that having two parents is preferable for the raising of children.
The Earl of Listowel is noting the citation of a study which found that children of same-sex parents “do better”, as cited by Baroness Stowell, and Lord Winston on Monday, saying it should be looked a “critically”.
The Earl of Listowel is tabling Amendment 95a, which calls for a review of the overall impact of the introduction on equal marriage on children.
He is concerned that the bill will “erode” the “traditional” idea that the “best situation for children is to have a father and a mother”.
Lord Bishop of Leicester has withdrawn Amendment 95, but has said he may seek to bring parts of it back at Third Reading.
Lord Bishop of Leicester has said the amendment does not allow schools to opt out of teaching about equal marriage, and claims that its opponents and proponents are actually on the “same side”.
Baroness Stowell has also promised that guidance will be reviewed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and sent to all schools, in order to support them after equal marriage becomes law.
Baroness Stowell says the Government does not accept the amendment, because it does not want to accept an amendment which could threaten the ultimate goal of the equal marriage bill.
Baroness Stowell notes that sometimes same-sex parents send their children to faith schools, and that it is wrong to assume all faith school parents are straight, and opposed to equal marriage.
“I don’t think that this amendment and what i will achieve is the way to give people comfort in order to adjust to the social change.
“Some parents who send their children to faith schools are gay, and I don’t think that we should assume that all parents who are sending their children to faith schools are straight couples.
“That’s the kind of sensitive issue we are dealing with.”
Baroness Stowell continues: “The Gov have considered it very carefully. We do believe that this provision is unnecessary, I need to try to reassure the house why we have come to that view.
“In schools of a religious character, teachers deal admirably” with teaching about marriages which do not line up with their faith. She notes marriages between divorcees.
Baroness Stowell rises to say she understands religious concerns over the teaching of equal marriage, but that the amendment is unnecessary.
“I would like to make clear that there is absolutely nothing in this bill that affects faith schools in future” to provide an education whilst sticking to religious beliefs.”
The Bishop of Exeter conceded that he is not a lawyer, but claimed that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill would create a legal conflict.
Baroness Royall, the leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, has said she understands concerns raised by the Church of England and Catholic Church.
She said they were concerned at the pace of change, and that they may not adjust to accept equal marriage, but said said: “they will, and they will be comfortable with it”.
Baroness Byford said she was concerned about children who may ask their parents about same-sex parents.
The Bishop of Winchester rose to support the amendment, saying that it does not include a “homophobic Trojan Horse”.
Baroness Byford has risen to support the bill, which she calls “extremely important”.
Excellent conclusion by Baroness Farrington: “All children in all our schools, ought to be able to love and respect all members of their communities and families. Those children know those people, perhaps we are a bit late recognising it.”
Baroness Farrington said a twelve-year-old asked her what she was doing in the Lords, and she told them equal marriage.
She said the child questioned why religious groups were opposed to equal marriage, and was confused as to why they would be.
Baroness Farrington said other peers had suggested that the equal marriage bill would create a new set of issues for schools to teach.
This legislation is already in place with civil partnerships, she says, but children or families with same-sex parents already exist, and schools will not be required to teach anything new.
Lord Elystan-Morgan rose with “trepidation” to say he was unsure on the amendment, but would reject it if it “imperilled” the bill.
He said: “Is there a point where a faith school, or a body operating any trust, is entitled, if it so wishes, to go contrary to a principle that have been clearly and specifically spelled out in Parliament. The answer must be in the negative. “
Lord Eden seems to suggest that children of same-sex parents will not have grandparents… “One aspect of marriage up until now, which will change when [equal marriage] becomes law, is that family life is a very significant factor in marriage, and in the bringing up of children.”
He continues: “Ideally the family includes a mother and father… and hopefully grandparents.”
“The aim of the family should be to provide a stable and nurturing environment” for the raising of children.
Baroness Brinton has risen to agree with Lord Alli. She says current guidelines are “sensitive” in the way they say schools must teach, but that Amendment 95 is not needed.
Lord Alli comments to say: “I am sorry that I cannot support the Reverend, for many of the reasons that Lord Pannick has outlined”.
“I am afraid that if we agree this amendment… It will provide a foothold for those opposed to this bill to open old debates and old wounds.”
He said Amendment 95 could be “quite destructive in the hands of those who do not want this bill to succeed”.
“My growing appreciation of the new direction of travel in the Church of England”, noting efforts to combat homophobic bullying by the Church.
Lord Cormack says: “Children should be taught the basic tenets of the faith. There need be nothing incompatible between these tow aims.”
“The acceptance of this amendment will show sensitivity, understanding on behalf of the Government.” He calls for a “spirit of mutual tolerance”.
Lord Cormack has also called the amendment “moderate”.
He says: “I do not believe the acceptance of this amendment can do any damage whatsoever” to the equal marriage bill.
Lord Pannick has called the bill “inappropriate”. He says he cannot understand the need for a specific provision to address the influence of equal marriage on sex education, when there is no provision to address other issues.
Baonress Cumberlege is talking on the value of faith schools, noting the Education Act which reads: “the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and the bringing up of children”.
She says a it will be “of concern”, because if equal marriage is passed, it will require schools to teach “more” than that of the law.
The Baroness claims that schools are concerned: “That they will be prevented of doing so by the redefinition of marriage” by the bill.
She called Amendment 95 a “modest amendment”.
The Lord Bishop is saying schools will teach about marriage according to religious teachings whether or not the amendment is added, but asks whether the peers would prefer it to be included in the bill.
Speaking on the Education Act 1996, the Lord Bishop of Leicester is saying without the amendment, there will be a conflict of interests between teaching facts about equal marriage, and the moral issues required by the teaching of SRE.
Amendment 95 has been nicknamed the “son of Section 28”.
It reads that the equal marriage bill will not “prevents teaching the tenets of the relevant religion or religious denomination concerning marriage and its importance for family life and the bringing up of children to registered pupils at schools which have a religious character.”
The Bishop of Leicester said without the amendment, religious schools will be “Left in a dilemma as to how marriage should be taught”.
Amendment 95 is currently being introduced by the Lord Bishop of Leicester. He says the amendment is not to allow schools to opt-out.
He said many people “still remain haunted by Section 28.” The Bishop says he does not want to “turn back the clock to those regrettable times.”
“The focus of the amendment is of schools of religious character”.
Here we go. The debate on the equal marriage bill is now resuming.
The Report stage for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Will resume shortly. Check back for updates.
Just under half an hour until the House of Lords debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, resumes. Stay tuned for more coverage here from 20:12 (approximately).
The debate at Report Stage for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has adjourned, to resume at 20:12. Check back on PinkNews.co.uk for more coverage!
Amendment 94, to extend civil partnerships to carers/cohabiting family members has been rejected by peers in the House of Lords with 267 votes to 89.
Amendment pushed to a vote. It appears a majority of Not-contents have it.
Baroness Deech: “I am getting letters from sisters. I don’t know what to write back to them if this house does not look at this amendment.”
Baroness Deech: “We are not talking about marriage, or civil partnership, or incest, we are talking about an inquiry now that same-sex marriage has opened this opportunity.”
She calls the amendment a “study of equality.”
Lord Wallace disputes Lord Dear’s assertion that there is at all a “clamouring” for this amendment. He says there are not exactly many people lobbying for it.
Lord Wallace says that what Baroness Deech was getting at was not really a civil partnership at all.
Lord Wallace: “It is undesirable for close family members, such as siblings, to marry.”
There are very strong arguments on both sides, says Lord Pannick.
However, where he was in favour of the amendment, he has now changed his mind. He is not persuaded this is an “appropriate vehicle” after all.
Baroness Barker says that the rights and responsibilities of people entering a relationship are wholly different from the rights and responsibilities of members of the same family.
“This sets up some potentially damaging and ugly relationships in families.” She says she does not think it should be a part of any review.
“Public opinion would consider this an important matter,” claims Lord Anderson.
Baroness Kennedy: “what would undermine the condition of same-sex marriages more than allowing fathers and daughters into a partnership contract?”
Lords keep trying to speak twice. Things are getting restless.
Baroness Kennedy says that this amendment is yet another wrecking amendment, designed to scuttle the bill.
That there is no “annulment” in civil partnerships means that there need not be a sexual dimension, Baroness Berridge argues.
“One might even see deeply religious people of the same sex, who currently oppose the bill, getting married!”
She notes that Lord Alli’s “feels wrong” comment is very subjective and postmodern. (Ignoring, of course, that feeling is a very modernist affect)
She says that if it is “so wrong,” the amendment would not have been allowed on the face of the bill.
Lord Dear says that the words “generosity and compassion” must be added to the words “equity” and “decency” that have already been used.
“There have been many attempts to couple this wagon to the appropriate stagecoach,” he argues, much to the provocation of the Lords.
Baroness Farrington says that the amendment is the “right wagon” attached to the “wrong train.”
She says she hopes they will find another vehicle to attach their wagon to, so that she may support it.
Baroness Farrington: “I would be delighted to be debating this issue, not in a review, but now.”
She says that she does not believe, however, that the marriage bill is the vehicle for doing that.
Bishop Chester says he has not heard the word “justice” being used an awful lot during discussions.
“Something ought to be there to provide support, and indeed blessing, for those who find themselves in co-habitations.”
He says he is delighted to support the amendment.
Lord Alli says, “at the risk of groans from the house,” that he has not noticed a single amendment down in any other bill pushing this issue.
“Why now?” he asks. “This is neither the time or place.”
Lord Alli says “I don’t view civil partnerships as a financial transaction between two people.” He says they are founded on a sexual relationships.
“I know your lordships don’t like talking about sex,” he remarks.
Lord Alli says he believes he will see a day where civil partnerships will be celebrated in churches.
“I think if we were today to broaden the scope of civil partnerships, we will endanger this.”
He says that all the benefits for unpaid carers already exists. The issue boils down to family exclusively, he insists.
In response to the question of the sexual nature of marriages – “we don’t ask that question.”
“I do understand, like marriage, civil partnerships – a majority of the time – start with a sexual component, and this must be broadly understood.”
Baroness Hooper talks emphatically about how her co-habited sister died last year, and that she gained no benefits from this tragic loss that others are privileged with.
Baroness Butler-Sloss says that “the door is actually open” for the civil partnership act to be reviewed.
“I find it very difficult to understand that it can’t be at least be looked at.”
The last time the issues of siblings and carers rights were raised was during the civil partnership bill.
Lord Lloyd says Baroness Deech is not asking for “a change in the law”.
“There is to be a review anyway,” he insists. “This seems to be the ideal occasion to consider the points to which everyone agrees.”
Lord Cormack: “If the government is to have this review of civil partnerships, it is surely right that these other relationships should be taken into account.”
“In the name of equity, in the name of decency – to exclude this would be entirely wrong.”
“Love and commitment come in many forms, not necessarily with sex,” says Baroness Deech. She says that worries about incest are “extraordinary”.
“It cannot be seriously suggested that two sisters taking care of each other are guilty of incest.”
“If recognising same-sex marriage has no impact on opposite-sex marriage,” she says, then the same can apply to sibling unions.
In France, she reminds the house, there exists “pacts” which exist that give similar benefits to marriage for co-dependent siblings and carers.
Baroness Deech says “this could be a gender issue”.
“The justification for the discrimination that exists for those living together in a co-dependent environment has gone,” she argues.
This is not merely about money, she says, it is about the advantages of living in a home, medical rights, and the care for children, and so on.
“I cannot imagine anyone hard-hearted enough to block this, although I gather the government is not sympathetic.”
Lord Wallace puts forward the Amendment 93 for England and Wales legislation concerning civil partnerships for siblings and carers.
Content or not content? The contents have it.
Baroness Stowell says in response to post-legislative scrutiny, that she would expect scrutiny of the bill’s impact to be considered – and that would be a matter of form, she reassures.
Concerning the fast-track procedure: “It reduces the amount of evidence that the trans person has to give to the gender recognition panel.”
The main thing, she concludes, is how grateful she is about the generous remarks that have been made.
“What we’ve done,” she notes, “is allowed trans people who have married to stay married.”
Baroness Barker says she is relieved that the discussions of pensions is over.
“I never thought we would come to anything more complex than when we came to this amendment.”
She says it is apt to say that one of the couples she knows will be directly affected by this. “They did not wish for that marriage to be broken up in these circumstances.”
Perhaps this amendment is something to be returned to in post-legislative procedures she suggests.
Baroness Gould: “It doesn’t really matter whether the spouse gives consent to the marriage, or to gender recognition.”
She acknowledges that the transgender community is angry, and will continue to be angry about the spousal veto.
Applicants who made their transitions long ago may find it difficult to obtain the required medical reports from gender dysphoria specialists, Baroness Stowell reminds the House.
Amendment put forward for transgender recognition bypassing veto legislation.
“There is a real fear from transgender people that spouses will be able to veto their gender recognition certificates.”
Lord Armstrong says he doesn’t think his amendment deserved Lord Lester’s harsh criticism.
He withdraws amendment 85.
Lord Wallace: “We cannot accept this amendment.” There is only one institution of marriage, he says.
Baroness Thornton calls Lord Armstrong’s amendment “ingenious” in its attempt to undermine equal marriage.
“We do feel that it is time to stop having this argument.”
Lord Lester notes that paragraph B separates the two types of marriage using about 100 words instead of a bracket.
“Its meaning and effect would puzzle Henry the VIII and his Lord Chancellor.”
(An amendment for two-tiered marriage was defeated by 195 votes on Monday)
Lord Armstrong: ‘This amendment is 100% bracket free.’
Lord Lester calls Lord Armstrong’s amendment the “most eccentric” he has seen.
Lord Armstrong says he anticipates that maybe “gay marriage” might one day become “as traditional” as opposite-sex marriage.
Lord Armstrong moves amendment 85 forward for enabling same-sex couples to “enjoy” the same laws as opposite-sex couples. The clause supports a “physiological and biological” recognition of “fundamental” difference.
(It is a wrecking amendment, in other words)
Amendment 84 withdrawn.
Lord Alli says that “there just is no public money.” He says he had the honour of being the publisher of Pensions Magazine: he has had a little time understanding the pensions market.
The 2 to 3 million pounds was about taking out gender discrimination. It has nothing to do with occupational pension schemes.
He says the cost is so minimal. “The actuary calculations,” he says, “will remain pretty static.”
Baroness Stowell has asked Lord Alli to withdraw his amendment to equalise pensions
Baroness Stowell: “This debate demonstrates the need for us to be better informed. There are issues that need proper consideration.”
She says she can see the sense in what Lord Alli is saying. “What I am going to do is discuss further with my ministerial colleagues.”
Lord Alli: “I really think the government cannot say there is a public cost – there is no public funding. It is so clear that the House should be put into a position of believing that public money is being spent.”
Pre-existing differences exist between men and women with pension provision has an impact on same-sex couples, says Baroness Stowell.
Baroness Stowell says that this amendment does not provide survivor provision between same-sex couples as well as opposite sex couples.
She claims it will have a domino effect on pensions schemes leading to the impact on the taxpayer.
“It would impact immediately on those pensions schemes that at the moment have no occupation for same-sex couples.”
“Avoiding imposing retrospective costs on pension schemes is the approach taken by Government for many years.”
Baroness calls on the Government to bring forward proposals to address any remaining pension inequalities.
Baroness Royall: “The 3 to 4 billion pound estimate is based on the assumption of equalisation leading back to 1978.” But the 1978 matter is based on the historic incident of women being subordinate to their husbands, she says.
Baroness Royall is supporting Lord Alli’s amendment.
Lord Deben: “Mammon must not be allowed to win.”
Mammon, in the New Testament of the Bible, is material wealth or greed, most often personified as a deity, and sometimes included in the seven princes of Hell.
Lord Deben: “We have had to say to groups and individuals who are unhappy with this legislation contain their unhappiness.”
“There might be something we haven’t thought through, but I do think we cannot say that for the time forward that one sort of marriage will work in one way and another will work in a different way.”
He says that every effort will be made to ensure this bill means what it says: equal marriage.
Lord Higgins: “I think it is wrong retrospectively to put a charge on the schemes of existing members.”
He says that overall they should leave it to the discretion of trustees.
“We don’t know the exact cost,” says Lord Higgins. “The reality is this will affect a number of pensions funds.”
Baroness Noakes disputes the evaluation of the financial impact of amendment 84, arguing her support for 84a.
Baroness Howe: “Isn’t this exactly the government’s commitment to securing real equality for gay people?”
Baroness Howe recounts the DOMA (Defense of Marriage) case concerning the discrimination of those in lawful same sex marriages.
She says: “I can confidently say that this change in the law will mean the world to those it affects.”
Lord Alli: “This is a tiny issue affecting a small amount a people at a terrible time of need.”
He says the government are making a mountain out of a molehill.
Lord Alli criticises the ideologue of “spurious costs” that he anticipates will be used to argue against the amendment.
Lord Alli is now introducing Amendment 84 for Pensions.