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Same sex marriage bill overwhelmingly voted (6 February 2013)

Date: 06/02/2013
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, Same sex marriage bill overwhelmingly voted

Though there was a Tory rebellion the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was voted overwhelmingly with 400 votes in favour of the bill.

Support for the bill was voiced during a five hour reading from all parties, yet some MPs were vocal in their disapproval with one even announcing that in the garden of Eden it was Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve.

Others who opposed the bill were worried that it was a quadruple lock which would expose religious institutions who in time will be forced to conduct same sex marriages.

The quadruple lock ensures that the prevailing body of religious institutions will have to give clear consent, with the ceremony taking place in a place of worship, which must be registered for same-sex marriages and the individual minister must be willing to conduct the ceremony.

But the Church of England has declared that this was ‘very unlikely’.

Further concerns were raised about religious registrars losing their jobs if they refused to perform same sex marriages. This had happened in the case of Lilian Ladele in relation to civil partnerships.

A family lawyer said that from the family perspective the bill was a moral and political issue rather than a legal one as rights of same sex married couples was similar to the rights in case of the dissolution of a civil partnership.

The main aim of the bill was to give people the right to call their relationship a marriage the family lawyer said he also added that it was interesting that heterosexual couples were not allowed to have the rights to enter into a civil partnership.

The institution of marriage should be made available to all he said.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, former barrister and chief executive of Christian Concern, said the vote may overturn “historic legislation” and a “common understanding of marriage”.

Williams warned that there could be similar problems to those that arose in relation to Catholic adoption agencies, some of which closed because of their views on marriage, she said.

She added that even before any changes to the marriage laws there were employees who were demoted for privately giving views on marriage and civil registrars penalised for their views on marriage.

The bill amends the Equality Act 2010 to make clear that it is not unlawful discrimination for a religious organisation or individual minister to refuse to marry same-sex couples.

It will now proceed to committee stage before moving to the House of Lords.

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