Equal marriage bill passes Third Reading in House of Lords
The equal marriage bill for England and Wales has passed its Third Reading in the House of Lords, following a brief and impassioned final debate.
The Lords resumed at 3pm, and the debate was brief. Amendments were added to hold a review for pension survivor benefits for same-sex couples.
Following closing speeches, both from those for, and against the bill, it was passed through its Third Reading without a vote.
Those opposed to the bill spoke of regret, but said they commended those pushing it through, and accepted that it was an inevitability.
The amendments added to the bill will be introduced by Culture Secretary Maria Miller in the House of Commons at 7pm tomorrow, and if accepted the bill will go on to receive Royal Assent, when the Queen is available to sign it.
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At Report Stage in the Lords, the bill was subject to scrutiny, and many government amendments were added, in order to tidy it up.
A vigil took place outside the Houses of Parliament today, in support of the bill. A Christian Concern prayer rally in opposition to the bill was cancelled last-minute.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “This vote is a defeat for discrimination and a victory for love and marriage. After a 21-year-long campaign, we are now on the cusp of same-sex marriage but not quite marriage equality.
“Ending discrimination against same-sex couples in marriage law will overturn the last major legal discrimination against LGBT people in Britain. It is of huge symbolic importance; signalling that same-sex love has social recognition, acceptance and parity.
“Our campaign isn’t over yet. This legislation includes six discriminatory aspects, which we will seek to overturn in a subsequent bill,” he continued.
Gabi Calleja, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said: “Today, the land of Magna Carta sealed another historic transformation. Marriage is an institution which is dear and close to many people’s hearts, beliefs and lives. It was shaped and transformed over hundreds of years by different traditions, interpretations and customs. The debate leading to the adoption of the marriage equality law has shown that British society and its politicians have once again embraced change, to update the institution of marriage to that which is equally open and accessible to all, in the name of justice and human rights.”
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