It was a brief but impassioned final debate, but same-sex marriage is coming to England and Wales. The House of Lords passed on the third reading a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in half of the United Kingdom. Scotland is set to begin debate on their version and Northern Ireland already put the kibosh on theirs.
The bill was passed through its third reading without an actual vote. Those who spoke out against the bill spoke of regretting it happening, but offered their commendation for those who pushed it through and noted it was inevitable.
Still, a few amendments were passed in the bill including holding a review for pension survivor benefits for same-sex couples. The bill’s amendments also include provisions for reviews of non-religious weddings and civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples.
The amendments to the bill will be introduced to the House of Commons tomorrow by Culture Secretary Maria Miller, and if they are all accepted, the bill will then go on to receive Royal Assent, which is when Queen Elizabeth II will sign the bill.
A vigil supporting the bill lasted into the night, but a Christian Concern prayer rally opposing the bill was cancelled.
Peter Tatchell, a prominent human rights campaigner, stated that “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.”
He went on to say that “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.”
Gabi Calleja of ILGA-Europe 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.”
Labour peer Lord Ali said that passage of the law meant that “my life and many others will be better today than it was yesterday”.
Tory peer Lord Framlingham, though, claimed that the law was “ill-thought through” and it had been “bulldozed” through Parliament. Which is code for “Wah! I didn’t get my way.”
The bill will take a year to go into full effect with the first same-sex marriages occurring next year.
Supporters of the bill wore pink carnations during the proceedings in the House of Lords. If Oscar Wilde is to be believed, though, they should have been wearing green.