British MPs vote to legalize gay marriage in England, Wales
While Britain's same-sex couples already enjoy civil partnerships, the new law would allow for civil and religious ceremonies as well, if a church gives its consent.
Equalities minister Maria Miller said as she introduced the bill that "the depth of feeling, love and commitment between same-sex couples is no different from that depth of feeling between opposite-sex couples."
Just two hours before MPs voted, Prime Minister David Cameron made a televised statement to say the bill was "making our society stronger."
The document will now be handed to a committee for further examination due next week, and after that, it’s expected to get strong support at the House of Commons from Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs. However, Cameron failed to gain support from over half of his Conservative party mates, with many also fearing slim chances for re-election.
The British vote comes just three days after MPs in France approved the most important article in a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Deputies voted 249-97 in favor of redefining marriage as an agreement between two people, rather than between a man and a woman.
The measure was backed by President Francois Hollande's Socialist party.
This while back in the UK, some conservatives said “the bill would end marriage as it had been understood for all recorded time” and that “it was designed to support the bearing and raising of children”, while others quoted Shakespeare and Elton John.
Conservatives William Hague, George Osbourne and Theresa May, however, wrote to the London Telegraph saying that opening the institution of marriage up to same-sex couples will only strengthen it. “Attitudes towards gay people have changed. A substantial majority of the public now favor allowing same-sex couples to marry, and support has increased rapidly. This is the right thing to do at the right time.”
Thus, while many fear that Cameron cannot adequately command leadership of his party, some polling experts argue the split will have only negligible effect.
Campaigners Martin Brown (L) and Archie Young kiss during a demonstration for a "yes" vote to allow gay marriage, as they protest outside Parliament in London February 5, 2013.(Reuters / Luke MacGregor)
A video grab image shows MPs voting on gay marriage legislation, in the House of Commons, London February 5, 2013.(Reuters / UK Parliament)