Gay marriage: MPs back bill despite Conservative backbench opposition


The result of the vote on gay marriage was read out to a packed House of Commons

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MPs have approved same-sex marriage in England and Wales in a key Commons vote, despite the opposition of almost half the Conservative MPs.

The Commons voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, by 400 to 175, a majority of 225, at the end of a full day's debate on the bill.

Prime Minister David Cameron has described the move as "an important step forward" that strengthens society.

Voting lists show that 136 Conservatives opposed the bill.

This figure includes two cabinet ministers - Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Welsh Secretary David Jones - eight junior ministers, and eight whips.

Of the remaining Conservative MPs, 127 were in favour, 35 did not vote, and five registered an abstention by voting both in favour and against.

Junior justice minister Helen Grant said: "As Tories we do differ at times. We have squabbles - we're like any other family."

But she described the legislation as "a major step forward for equality and justice".

'We are all equal'

Opening the debate, Equalities Minister Maria Miller urges MPs to back the bill

Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said: "I genuinely believe that we will look back on today as a landmark for equality in Britain.

"Tonight's vote shows Parliament is very strongly in favour of equal marriage.

"No matter who you are and who you love, we are all equal. Marriage is about love and commitment, and it should no longer be denied to people just because they are gay.

"The Liberal Democrats have long fought for equal marriage. It is party policy and I am proud that the Liberal Democrats are part of the coalition government that are making it happen."

MPs were given a free vote on the bill, meaning they were not ordered to vote a particular way by party whips.

Their decision to back the bill at second reading signifies that they approve of it in principle. The legislation will now receive more detailed parliamentary scrutiny.

'Divided nation'

Opposition leader Ed Miliband said: "This is a proud day and an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain.

"The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs supported this change to make sure marriage reflects the value we place on long-term, loving relationships whoever you love.

Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale: ''There are a huge number of people who are very concerned indeed''

"Equal marriage builds on Labour's successes in government which include the repeal of Section 28, equalising the age of consent, the introduction of civil partnerships and changes to the rules governing adoption."

But Conservative MP David Burrowes said: "We do respect the equal value of men and women, but surely that doesn't avoid us looking and celebrating difference, and marriage is a great way of celebrating the difference between a man and a woman."

He predicted that the legislation would receive substantial opposition when it arrived in the House of Lords.

He said the vote result had shown that the party was in touch with the country: "The nation is divided, we have shown ourselves as a party to be divided."

He added: "We have been the ones showing ourselves to have a grown-up, free-vote, conscience issue debate, and we shouldn't hide behind the fact that we're going to be divided on this issue."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1199.

    Not religious. not gay. happy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1198.

    Marriage is between man&woman,their conjugal love makes new life possible,in gay marriages-impossible,basic understanding of physiology makes this clear.The term partner is sufficient for gays wanting to love each other more deeply.Marriage images the Holy Trinity where the son Jesus is eternally generated between the love of the Father&Holy Spirit so gay marriages can't be accepted by Christians

  • rate this

    Comment number 1197.

    I'm finding it hard to imagine an issue more clumsily handled than this. Compounded further by a deeply polarised public: if you vote for the sanctity of marriage according to God, you are a 'gay-basher', if you support same sex marriage, you're a social deviant. Is anyone allowed to have an opinion on this without any sort of hysterical backlash?

  • Comment number 1196.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1195.

    How can christians claim ownership of marriage when it predates christianity, and people of other faiths can get married? Don't tell hindus or budhists or sihks that your god is their god, he isn't. So if you can accept that hindus can be married then why for the love of god can you not accept gays and lesbians? For once just stand up and be honest and admit that you're a bigot if you opose this

  • rate this

    Comment number 1194.

    Which begs the question why the fuss over a ceremony enshrined in religion?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1193.

    It seems that so many people are commenting without reading the text, or the Bill itself. It says that no person shall be compelled to conduct a marriage where that marriage concerns a same-sex couple (Sec 2, Sub 2). Plus the CofE is not legally allowed to conduct a same-sex marriage unless they petition to, and change Canon Law within the church. I'm pleased with the result today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1192.

    A good result for any modern civilisation. Religious types can think what they like, their views are irrelevant outside their own church.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1191.

    1164.DW "Let's go to a rugby match and pretend it's football."

    Let's just call them both sports and accept that different people enjoy both, without one side calling the other abnormal. And be happy that we live in a country where it is not mandatory to participate in either of them, but that both are a matter of choice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1190.

    I hope they televise gay divorces, they are going to be hilarious!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1189.

    I am 24 years old had to endure insults, exclusion and rejection for been gay growing up but not today! NEVER AGAIN :D

  • rate this

    Comment number 1188.

    @ 1147.Concerned Citizen

    "What does GOD Almighty who instituted MARRIAGE have to say about today's vote"

    Why don't we ask him? Oh, we can't because he's a fictional character.

    Why don't you form some opinions of your own?

  • Comment number 1187.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1186.

    Marriage is between a man and a woman, and designed to provide a strong family unit for raising children. Gay couples have civil partnerships - why is that not enough? Many gay couples i know are really not fussed about marriage.

    More focus should be placed on strengthening the family, as a stable place to raise children.

    Big mistake by Cameron.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1185.

    As a happily married heterosexual male I'm over the moon that gay couples can now have the same rights that were allowed me. To those of you that would deny a gay couple the same rights as everyone else try to remember it is 2013 not 1813.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1184.

    The New Fascism has arrived. If you're against gay marriage you're a bigot. Bullies.
    Does anyone know if marriages still have to be consummated to be valid?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1183.

    "I have no issue with same sex relationships or civil partnerships. What I do have a problem with, is that a small majority of individuals seek to challenge the the cornerstone of the church, the Bible in the name of equality. "

    OMG why are people like you so THICK. The church DOESN'T OWN marriage. Government has, as with all areas of law, reformed marriage from time to time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1182.

    As a heterosexual, married man, father of three girls, thank god my kids can grow up in a country where their rights are recognized and theit sexuality protected and respected by law. Hopefully, by the time they grow up, many of the biggots and hateful individuals posting on here will have died off. As a teacher, I can vouch for the younger generation who in discussion support this fully.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1181.

    1156.CURTAINS 2012
    How many more members do you have in your Thought Police?
    Yes, but do you understand now? Wasn't that difficult.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1180.

    Cameron is trying to win votes. Gays marrying is a travesty. Marriage is defined as the union between two people "under the eyes of God" (or whatever religion etc. etc.) and has, traditionally, been the start of the production of children. It has been an institution and a tradition for many, many years.

    Before anyone barks at me a) I am have no religion and b) I am a gay man.


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