Gay Marriage | News | United Kingdom

UK House of Lords Approves Marriage Equality Bill in Voice Vote

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UK's House of Lords has approved the marriage equality bill in a voice vote and rejected the "wrecking amendment" by a wide margin in a 390-148 vote, the Guardian reports.

Peers have voted by a majority of 242 to allow the gay marriage bill to continue its passage through the Lords. Although victory for the pro-bill lobby was never seriously in doubt, the size of their win took some peers by surprise. The Lords voted by 390 votes to 148 to reject an attempt by Lord Dear, a crossbencher, to defeat the bill at second reading. It is very unusual for the Lords to block a bill at second reading and some peers may have been voting against Dear because they were opposed to the idea of the Lords trying to obstruct legislation in this way, not because they were great supporters of the bill. But the size of the majority means the bill must now be certain to become law. However, it is still likely that attempts will be made to amend it in the Lords, in particular to strengthen the protection available to churches who do not want to conduct gay weddings. Lady Stowell, a government whip, told peers in her wind-up speech that the government would not necessarily object to amendments of this kind.

The bill moves to its next stage of consideration, the Committee stage.

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  1. Technically, that was the vote by which Lord Dear's "wrecking amendment" was defeated. The bill then passed second reading on a voice vote and was referred to a Committee of the Whole House. There will still have to be a third reading.

    Posted by: Jeff R | Jun 4, 2013 2:03:09 PM


  2. This is, of course, very positive. But at some point you have to wonder... if they waited until they have such a big majority, didn't they wait too long? These things should be passed as soon as the votes are there, and a day longer is yet another day too long.

    Posted by: JC | Jun 4, 2013 2:06:25 PM


  3. I am all for all of the "religious protections" they want, as long as no church is forbidden to conduct the nuptials it wants to conduct. It just strengthens the idea that there is no objection except by the religious who wont have to perform the services in any case.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Jun 4, 2013 2:11:13 PM


  4. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY

    Posted by: Andy | Jun 4, 2013 2:35:43 PM


  5. let's not forget our gay peer Lord Alli.

    Posted by: Cd in DC | Jun 4, 2013 3:03:00 PM


  6. Well done, your Lordships !

    Now get all marriages into Registry Offices.

    I don't give a phuck what religious dudes do in churches; but hands off our secular laws of marriage.
    We should not only want the option of same sex marriage we should want the civil law to be un-entangled from religious rites.
    If the churches don't want to perform same sex marriages then that reluctance is the opportunity for denying churches any role whatever in performing any civil/secular marriages.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jun 4, 2013 3:08:11 PM


  7. Goodness me! A bill has to jump 11 different hurdles before it becomes a law in the UK??? Wow, they really need to update their lawmaking procedures.

    Posted by: Slow as molasses | Jun 4, 2013 3:39:19 PM


  8. Why can't it be law sooner? I know it has to go to committee and go to the third reading and return to Commons if there are amendments, but why will it still take over a year for actual marriages to occur under the law? This is such a slow process.

    Posted by: Kyle | Jun 4, 2013 4:09:47 PM


  9. Bills do similar things in the US -- they have to pass through committee and the floor of both houses.

    Posted by: Mike8787 | Jun 4, 2013 4:19:11 PM


  10. @Mike8787 Yes, bills have to go through a process in the US, but it's not an 11 step process like in the UK. The UK's process is WAAAAAAAY longer than the US.

    Posted by: Stupid | Jun 4, 2013 5:04:54 PM


  11. A few months ago several posters claimed the bill would never, ever get through the Lords, now it easily has they are complaining about other parts of the process.

    Right now and for the foreseeable future the CofE is the state religion of the UK and several bishops sit in the HOL, but religion is still much less of a factor in UK politics than in the US, even with any religious amendments. Consider the US House and weep.

    Posted by: Heavs | Jun 4, 2013 7:53:14 PM


  12. I wouldn't say it's 11 steps. Essentially it's just 2nd reading - committee stage - report - 3rd reading in both houses followed by ping pong between the two chambers where there are amendments from one house to consider.

    Anyway it's truly seismic. Both chambers voted for marriage equality by a 2:1 majority. That means to my mind it will definitely happen soon and Scotland will pursue its own legislation which is certain to have a similar majority.

    There is a bit of a loop back to the USA and the SCOTIS case as reference was made to the history of marriage over 1,000 years. Hmmm. The US hasn't existed for that long! England as a state has existed a little more than 1,000 years. And, of course Bowers v Hardwick references the common law of England and Blackstone's commentaries and its condemnation of sodomy. Texas v Lawrence referenced that both the UK and the European Court of Human Rights had reversed their laws outlawing sodomy - it was a kind of retort against the original ruling.

    Anyone talking about marriage over 1,000 years is talking about marriage before the US Constitution (and most certainly before the 14th amendment to the said document). After today the body that held the legislation prior to the US Constitution in that 1,000 years is the British Parliament which now believes in marriage equality by big majorities - similar to Bowers v Hardwick, the precursor body is making the same changes that the successor bodies.

    You might say SCOTUS is a constitutional court and is there to give effect to the Constitution not to what existed before. In which case you have the 14th amendment, Brown v Board of Education, Loving v Virginia, Romer+Lawrence.... and the answer to Scalia's question about when marriage equality became a constitutional right. It's an angle that's worth thinking about.

    Posted by: Craig Nelson | Jun 4, 2013 7:54:25 PM


  13. The actual legislative process isn't that long. Most of you are unaware that the Bill was only brought into the House in January and is now in the end stages as it heads through committee and report stage to its third and final reading and vote. We do things somewhat slower in the UK but the purpose of this is to get it right.

    Those religious protections are already covered in the current Bill. Any amendment in that regards would be superfluous. Lord Pannic, QC, prior to the Commons vote said that the Bill is air-tight regarding religious protections (the quadruple lock)for the state Church and Church of Wales and that it would be unlikely that the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) would take on a lawsuit against the Church.

    The Bill already protects teachers and public employees in matters of faith and belief. Teachers whose religious beliefs might be in conflict with the new law are also given protection as long as the manner in which they may teach about SSM doesn't foment hostility towards gay, bi or transgendered children. Current laws actually give protection for all of the above aside from this Bill.

    The Committee would have a very hard time trying to improve on that.

    Posted by: alexoloughlin | Jun 5, 2013 7:09:46 AM


  14. Are you kidding me? Getting a law passed in the U.S at the federal level is like pulling teeth. And even when all is said and done, it can still be challenged in multiple courts for years afterwards. The U.S. Supreme Court are the ultimate arbiters, if they choose to accept the challenge.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jun 5, 2013 9:00:06 AM


  15. I know the UK system seems slow, but it doesn't actually take as long as people think. When I checked last week there were 42 other bills in the process of being debated, most will be cleared by the end of the month. Its not like each stage takes weeks.

    Its FAR harder to kill a bill here with wrecking tactics than in the US.

    Posted by: Really | Jun 5, 2013 9:29:50 AM


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