Peers conclude day one of gay marriage debate


Former Conservative peer Lord Deben compared the arguments put forward in the second reading debate on gay marriage to a 19th Century debate on changing the law to allow a man to marry his deceased wife's sister.

Lord Deben said peers also "complained that it was rushed legislation, hinted at polygamy, and said it would encourage incest" in the 19th Century but that once passed the "most controversial of acts was totally accepted".

On 3 June 2013, he said the bill would "complete [the] journey...from criminalisation to equality".

But fellow Conservative peer Baroness Berridge warned that the "public square was in danger of being shut down" and "dissenters were automatically bigots or homophobic".

She said that though the bill "badly needs amending" but she would not vote against it as "the public did not vote for me".

Labour's Baroness Gould of Potternewton raised transgender issues which she did not "think had been covered sufficiently this evening".

She welcomed the bill but called for the removal of the law requiring transgender people in partnerships to gain their spouse's consent in order to obtain a gender recognition certificate.

After two years of living as the opposite sex in the UK, you can apply for a gender recognition certificate, which allows you to change your birth certificate.

Due to the large number of peers wanting to take part in the debate - more than 90 - the government agreed to allow second reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill to be taken over two days.

The vote will take place on 4 June 2013, at the conclusion of second-reading debate.

The bill has divided the Conservative party with more than 100 of its MPs voting against the bill in the Commons. The plans are expected to encounter further opposition from peers.

Lord Dear, a crossbencher, has tabled a motion to decline to give the bill a second reading - a rare move in the Lords.

The bill proposes that couples who are the same sex can get married - although the change will not be forced on religious organisations who will have to "opt in" to holding ceremonies if they want to hold gay weddings.

Specifically, the Church of England and Church in Wales will be banned in law from offering same-sex marriages.

There will be a consultation on changing civil partnerships to include heterosexual couples, after the government backed the Labour-proposed plan.

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