Lord Singh amendment calling for equal marriage referendum withdrawn in Lords debate
An amendment which would have meant a referendum on equal marriage, even if the equal marriage bill for England and Wales were to pass, has been withdrawn at Report stage.
The question which would have been raised on the ballot papers for the referendum in October is: “Those entitled to vote in the referendum are the persons who, on the date of the referendum, would be entitled to vote as electors at a parliamentary election in any constituency.”
During the debate, Lord Sing cited the controversial Regnerus Study, which was widely dismissed as “flawed and misleading”, to oppose same-sex parenting. The study claimed that children did better off with opposite-sex married parents, but was criticised for not taking a wide enough sample of same-sex parents, and not including enough children of married same-sex couples.
The amendment stated that, even if the bill passed all stages of its Parliamentary consideration, it would not be able to come into effect until a majority of voters at the referendum vote in its favour.
Baroness Turner spoke passionately, and for the first time during debate, to say that she thought “younger people are all in favour” of equal marriage, and that she thought the majority of people are actually already in favour.
She continued: “We do not need a referendum. It is really not a worthy amendment at all. Why on this bill? it is entirely discriminatory.”
Lord Fowler accused 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. He suggested that Lord Singh was not showing enough respect for the parliamentary process.
Lord Alli also agreed noting the figures in the large majority votes during the House of Commons free-votes on the bill.
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Baroness Thornton then commended the opposition to the equal marriage bill, for being so adamantly opposed to it. She said she was opposed to the amendment, and is also cited free votes in the House of Commons, at which equal marriage was passed.
Lord Wallace said: “This bill is about putting right a wrong because we believe in the institution of marriage”, and called for peers to reject the referendum amendment.
Lord Singh, who is a prominent British Asian active in the Sikh and interfaith communities, previously introduced amendment 22, which would have added specific language relating to Sikh groups not having to perform same-sex marriages.
As the bill has remained intact through its Report Stage, it will now go to its Third Reading on Monday 15 July. If passed there, any changes will be considered in the House of Commons before the bill receives Royal Assent.
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