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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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'Guardian' Poll Shows Majority Of Brits Support Marriage Equality

GuardianICM

England's new year will bring plenty more debate about marriage equality, and Prime Minister David Cameron can rest easy knowing he has a majority of the country behind him.

According to a poll conducted for The Guardian, 62% of Britain's voting public endorses the conservative PM's controversial plan for marriage equality:

The ICM poll conducted just before Christmas found 62% of voters now support the proposals, with half this number – 31% – opposed. Most previous polls have found opinion leaning the same way, although the two-to-one margin revealed on Wednesday is particularly emphatic. An ICM online survey for the Sunday Telegraph in March asked the identical question – which expressly reminds people that the option of civil partnerships already exists for gay couples – and established a 45%-36% lead for the reformers.

Meanwhile, over at The Independent, a ComRes poll shows that the same percentage, 62, believes that the Church of England should be allowed to perform same-sex marriages. Cameron's plan would forbid them from doing so.


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Muslims Demand Exemption from Marrying Gays in Britain

Last week I posted a same-sex marriage plan put forth by David Cameron's administration that puts in place four legal "locks" in order that religious organizations not be required to marry same-sex couples. Under the rules, the Church of England would be forbidden to do so in any case.

MuradMuslim groups are now angry that the religions are being treated differently:

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), with more than 500 affiliated mosques, charities and schools, said it was "appalled" by "utterly discriminatory" legislation on same-sex marriage set out by the government.

The proposals would allow faith groups to conduct gay marriages but would ban the CofE and the Church in Wales from doing so.

The MCB secretary-general, Farooq Murad, said his organisation had strongly opposed gay marriage alongside other religions and was seeking an urgent meeting with culture secretary, Maria Miller, to express the concerns of many Muslims over the proposals. "No one in their right mind should accept such a discriminatory law," he said. "It should be amended to give exactly the same exemption to all the religions."

The criticism from the MCB comes after the CofE last week attacked the government's lack of consultation over its gay marriage plans, saying senior ecclesiastical figures learned of them only when Miller announced them to parliament.


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