Same sex marriage bill passes report stage


The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has cleared another legislative stage in the House of Lords, and moves one step closer to becoming law.

Peers completed report stage scrutiny on the bill and it will now move to third reading, the final stage in the Lords, on 10 July 2013.

The Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, tabled an amendment which referred to the right of faith schools to teach their beliefs on marriage and the "importance for family life and the bringing up of children".

He aimed to reassure peers his amendment was about "reconciling two principles - equality in marriage and the respect for religious freedom" and not about opting out from teaching about gay marriage.

Conservative peer Baroness Cumberlege agreed, describing the amendment as "modest" and said it would allow "schools of a religious character learn about the importance of marriage for a family life".

However Labour's Lord Alli said: "I cannot support this amendment as it would provide a foothold for those who oppose this bill to open old debate and old wounds."

Crossbench peer Lord Pannick described the amendment as "inappropriate", as it amended a provision on sex education which raised other religious issues such as contraception which were not referred to.

Minister Baroness Stowell of Beeston deemed the amendment "unnecessary" and "happily" assured the bishop that there was no legal conflict between the secretary of state's requirements to give regard to the teaching on marriage and the wishes of school governors.

The Bishop of Leicester later withdrew his amendment.

The bill proposes that couples who are the same sex can get married. Changes will not be forced on religious organisations who will have to "opt in" to holding ceremonies.

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