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UK Marriage Equality Legislation Threatened in Parliament

David Cameron's marriage equality legislation faces a challenging series of votes in parliament today, the Guardian reports, the primary one coming from an amendment by Tory opponents to grant civil partnerships to heterosexual couples:

CameronMaria Miller, the equalities minister, has warned that the entire gay marriage bill will be at risk of collapse if Tory opponents join forces with Labour MPs to vote in favour of granting civil partnerships to heterosexual couples.

In the strongest indication yet that Downing Street will shelve the bill if "fundamental" changes are made, Miller warned that opponents were in danger of giving the government a "headache".

The Guardian adds:

The government warned of three dangers to the bill if an amendment to grant civil partnerships to heterosexual couples is passed. It is being tabled by the former children's minister Tim Loughton who opposes gay marriage. A government source said the Loughton amendment would:

• Come with a price tag of £4bn. Steve Webb, the pensions minister, told parliament's joint committee on human rights last week that the state would be liable for new "survivors'" pension rights.

• Delay the introduction of the entire bill by 18 to 24 months because the government would need to work on the joint implementation of new rights for gay married couples and heterosexual couples in new civil partnerships.

• Complicate the government's argument that the changes are about strengthening the institution of marriage by opening it to all couples. "If you open up civil partnerships to opposite sex couples then the institution of marriage will be weakened," one

Pink News adds:

A Downing Street source told PinkNews.co.uk that, if an amendment put forward by Tim Loughton, which would extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples, were to pass, the Government may pull its support for the Marriage (Same Sex couples) Bill.

The source said no option could be ruled out over the bill, until after the vote on the amendment.


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One Direction Covers Blondie's 'One Way or Another': VIDEO

Onedirection

With a cameo by the British Prime Minister.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "One Direction Covers Blondie's 'One Way or Another': VIDEO" »


British Parliament Poised to Vote on Marriage Equality: WATCH LIVE

The British Parliament is posed to debate and give a first vote on Prime Minister David Cameron's marriage equality proposal Tuesday night.

HERE's the LIVE VIDEO. It's the second of three readings in the House of Commons. It started about 7:30am EST and should last approximately six hours. It then goes to the House of Lords.

The vote is scheduled for 19:00 GMT (2 PM EST).

To open this post in a new window, click HERE.

Conservative support for the measure is divided but is getting a last-minute push for support from three cabinet officials, George Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Home Secretary Theresa May, who published a letter in the Daily Telegraph calling on fellow conservatives to support the bill.

They wrote: Tories

Civil partnerships for gay couples were a great step forward, but the question now is whether it is any longer acceptable to exclude people from marriage simply because they love someone of the same sex.

Marriage has evolved over time. We believe that opening it up to same-sex couples will strengthen, not weaken, the institution. As David Cameron has said, we should support gay marriage not in spite of being Conservatives, but because we are Conservatives.

Our party also has a strong belief in religious freedom, a vital element of a free society. The Bill ensures that no faith group will be forced to conduct same-sex marriages. The legal advice is clear that these protections for religious groups cannot be overturned by the courts.

Religious freedom works both ways. Why should faith groups, such as the Quakers, that wish to conduct gay marriages be forbidden from doing so? This Bill will enhance religious freedom, not restrict it.

Attitudes towards gay people have changed. A substantial majority of the public now favour allowing same-sex couples to marry, and support has increased rapidly. This is the right thing to do at the right time. We will be among the Conservative MPs voting for this Bill today.

TatchellThe Peter Tatchell Foundation is holding a rally outside parliament at 5 pm today.

“MPs vote tonight at 7pm on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. We urge supporters of marriage equality to rally outside and inside parliament. It is important to have a visible presence for equal rights, against the vociferous homophobic minority. They want to keep us as second class citizens and are resorting to smears and scare tactics. Our rally is for love and equality,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

“Regardless of whether you love or loathe marriage, the ban on same-sex marriage is homophobic discrimination and should be repealed. This legislation is about ensuring equal marriage rights for all. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. Denying lesbian and gay couples the right to marry disparages and insults their love. The fact that some senior politicians and churchmen believe gay couples are unworthy of marriage is proof that homophobia is still deemed an acceptable prejudice in the highest levels of society. Their support for legalised discrimination gives comfort to bigots everywhere,” said Mr Tatchell.

The Guardian adds:

Downing Street knows that the marriage (same sex couples) bill will easily receive its second reading because an overwhelming number of Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs will line up alongside Cameron loyalists to vote for it. But up to half of the Tory parliamentary party's 303 MPs may fail to support the bill by voting against it or abstaining in the second reading.

Scores of Tory MPs say they are facing intense pressure in their constituencies to vote against the measure. The strength of feeling in the party was highlighted on Sunday, when 20 current and former Tory constituency association chairmen delivered a letter to No 10 warning that the bill would inflict "significant damage" to the party in the runup to the next election.

The surprise intervention of the cabinet's heaviest hitters suggested the bill was in line with Conservative values and strengthened both marriage and religious freedom.

The paper is running a live blog here.


Conservatives Urge British PM To Delay Vote on Marriage Equality

Over 25 members of UK Prime Minster David Cameron's Conservative Party have signed a letter asking the PM to delay Tuesday's vote on legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in that country. The letter was delivered to him Cameron, who supports the bill, today.

CameronReuters reports:

"...a letter signed by 25 past and present chairmen of local Conservative associations was handed in to Cameron's Downing Street residence on Sunday afternoon by six of the signatories. 'We feel very strongly that the decision to bring this bill before parliament has been made without adequate debate or consultation with either the membership of the Conservative Party or with the country at large,' the letter said. It added: 'Resignations from the party are beginning to multiply and we fear that, if enacted, this bill will lead to significant damage to the Conservative Party in the run-up to the 2015 election.'"

Also, the Daily Mail yesterday published an editorial by the UK's Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove in which he gives his support for marriage equality saying "marriage is not undermined by extending it to gay people – it is reinforced by including everyone equally."

UPDATE: Cameron will read the letter but it won't affect his decision.

Read the full text of the letter to Cameron, AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "Conservatives Urge British PM To Delay Vote on Marriage Equality" »


British Government Publishes Landmark Bill to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage, with First Vote in Early February

British Culture Secretary Maria Miller has published landmark legislation that would bring marriage equality to England and Wales, the BBC reports:

MillerMore than 100 Tory MPs are thought to be against the idea, but the bill is likely to pass through the Commons with the support of Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs.

Same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships since 2005, entitling them to the same legal rights as married couples across a range of matters, such as inheritance, pensions provision, life assurance, child maintenance, next of kin and immigration rights.

The new law, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, will enable same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies - where a religious institution has formally consented. It will also allow couples who have previously entered into civil partnerships to convert their relationship into a marriage.

Mrs Miller said the government recognised that "some churches won't want to participate in same-sex marriages". "We are trying to make sure that there are the protections there for churches who feel that this isn't appropriate for their particular beliefs," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

However, the government also wanted any religious institution that did want to carry out same-sex marriages to be able to do so, she said.

You can read the legislation HERE. The first debate and vote are scheduled for February 5 and the bill has the support of conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.


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