Peer: Gay marriage important for British business

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Former chief executive of BP and crossbench peer Browne of Madingley told the House of Lords that legalising gay marriage was of "strategic importance to British business".

He cited his own experiences, hiding his homosexuality in the professional sphere, but said he realised it was "no way to do business".

However, on 3 June 2013, former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Tebbit told the House that "the present law of marriage [did] not discriminate against homosexuals".

"The rights of a homosexual man are identical to mine. Subject to the laws on incest and bigamy we are both free to marry a woman," he said.

But Lord Browne warned warned peers not to "lose the plot" and that it was the House's strength that it could "recognise the need to adapt to society".

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales would allow couples, who can currently form civil partnerships, to marry.

Conservative peer Lord Black of Brentwood spoke of how the bill would allow him, with "great pride", to marry his partner.

"I am the same as you except that I happen to love a man. Why should I be barred from taking part in a special institution that all the rest of you can enjoy?" he said.

'Social engineering'

Lords took part in a fierce second-reading debate, and many speakers spoke passionately for and against the legislation.

Conservative peer Lord Cormack dismissed the bill as "probably the most profound piece of social engineering ever put before Parliament".

He added that this was not a Conservative "manifesto commitment" and the government was without a "popular mandate".

Fellow Conservative peer Baroness Knight of Collingtree said the "bad" bill was "built on lies" which effectively said that "children did not need a father and a mother".

Labour peer Lord Stoddart of Swindon agreed with Lord Cormack that "no party had the guts to include this in their manifesto".

However Conservative peer Viscount Astor warned that voting against the bill would result in the Lords being "seen as undemocratic and not the guardian of democracy as we are often now seen".

Senior rabbi at the West London Synagogue and crossbench peer Baroness Neuberger said marriage was a "social construct" and had not always been between one man and one woman.

She voiced her supported the bill and said there were 30 gay couples in her synagogue waiting for the day that they could take vow of marriage.

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