Same sex marriage bill clears Commons

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The bill legalising same-sex marriage in England and Wales has cleared another stage on its way to becoming law.

MPs voted by 366 votes to 161 to pass the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at third reading on 21 May 2013.

Women and Equalities Minister Maria Miller issued a final appeal to her party: "I accept that for some colleagues their beliefs mean that the principle of this issue is an insurmountable barrier to supporting this change but to other colleagues I say: now is the time."

She concluded by saying: "Let us make equal marriage possible because it's the right thing to do, and then let us move on."

Her Labour counterpart Yvette Cooper said it was time to "be loud and proud" about same-sex marriage and start talking about "the joy we can deliver".

She told the House that the message to gay couples should be: "We won't discriminate against you on the grounds of your sexuality we respect and support and celebrate your relationship."

Conservative MP Nick Herbert argued that "this bill actually extends religious freedom" and "absolutely no harm is done by this measure".

Labour MP Diane Abbott paid tribute to the efforts of grassroots campaigners and confessed: "I did not think I would live to see the day this reached third reading."

But Jeffrey Donaldson, speaking on behalf of the DUP, condemned it as "bad legislation", undermining his belief that "marriage is foundational, it is for one man and one woman and should not be redefined".

Conservative MP David Burrowes urged: "If honourable members believe in traditional marriage and liberty, they should vote against third reading tonight."

Having been approved at third reading, the bill will now pass to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.

Earlier in the day the bill passed report stage without a vote after Lib Dem Julian Huppert and Green Caroline Lucas, who had tabled amendments aimed at improving the bill's treatment of transgender people, accepted government assurances on the issue.

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