Despite 161 Members of Parliament voted against same-sex marriage in England and Wales, but the bill which has been highly controversial passed none the less. The equal marriage bill now goes to the House of Lords. Prime Minister David Cameron hopes that it will pass there and that will mean that the first same-sex marriages will occur next summer.
While there were several Conservative (Tory) Members of Parliament who opposed the law, it was backed by the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties.
Religious organizations will not be required to offer same-sex weddings, and the Church of England and Church in Wales being banned from offering them. Welsh Secretary David Jones and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson voted against the bill in its third reading.
The bill passed 205 to 161. In the end, 133 Tories opposed the bill and were joined by 15 Labour MP’s, 4 Lib Dems, 8 Democratic Unionists, and one independent. The DUP MP’s were not a surprise given that their party worked with the Catholic Church to defeat a similar measure in Northern Ireland.
Tensions have been mounting between the Downing Street and the various opposed Tories in Parliament. Those tensions have been threatening to destabilize the governing coalition for some time now.
Labour Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper stated “Let’s celebrate, not discriminate. Let’s put aside the anger and hear it for the joy.”
The bill passed despite opponents of the bill demonstrating and holding a vigil opposite the Palace of Westminster, and a woman was detained by police. She tried to drive a car through the gates of Westminster Palace as the vote was taking place.
Tory critics of the marriage bill had proposed an amendment that would allow opposite-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships. That was defeated. A Labour amendment to study that idea was passed, though.