Gay marriage bill clears Lords

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On 15 July 2013, peers passed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at third reading, but entrenched divisions over the legislation continued.

The bill will return to the Commons for final consideration of amendments, and will then receive royal assent.

Many supporters of the bill wore pink carnations, including government minister Baroness Stowell of Beeston, who told peers: "I can't claim to be a gay rights campaigner. But I am a firm believer in justice and fairness."

The bill "puts right something which is wrong - the exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution of marriage...I am delighted that very soon it will be possible for gay couples to marry", she added.

However deep divisions, which have permeated debate on this issue were evident, and Conservative peer Lord Cormack told the House that for some people the Christian definition of marriage would remain.

Fellow Conservative Lord Framlington called for a vote on the bill at third reading.

He warned: "Happiness won at the expense of other people's happiness is rarely trouble-free in the long term."

But Labour's Lord Alli, a strong supporter of the bill, said he was "truly humbled" by being part of the legislative process and added: "My life and many others will be better today than it was yesterday."

Liberal Democrat QC Lord Lester of Herne Hill said it would have been "quite inconceivable" for the Lords to have approved such legislation 20 years ago.

The bill would allow same sex couples to marry in England and Wales.

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