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Wednesday, February 6, 2013
British Parliament Approves Gay Marriage
British lawmakers voted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed, siding with majority opinion in the country but exposing major divisions within the ruling Conservative Party. Nearly seven hours of debate in Parliament culminated in a 400-175 vote in favor of a bill that authorizes same-sex marriages but also exempts religious organizations from having to perform them. The measure puts Britain on track to join other European nations, including Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands, in opening up marriage to homosexual couples. The bill now goes to committee and then to the House of Lords. But its approval in the House of Commons makes it highly likely that it will eventually become law. The vote handed Prime Minister David Cameron, whose administration sponsored the legislation, both a political victory and a political defeat. Approval of the bill allows him to portray himself and his government as in tune with public opinion and modern values, but it came at the cost of an angry mutiny by his own Conservative backbenchers, who said he had no mandate to press for such a change. An early count showed that as many, if not more, Conservatives lawmakers voted against the measure as for it, with many others abstaining. Its passage relied on the support of lawmakers from the opposition Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats, the junior party in the government coalition. The result is a blow to Cameron’s authority as head of the Conservatives at a time when the party’s rank and file are already nervous about his administration’s ability to turn around Britain’s sputtering economy. In a rare move, Cameron showed up in the House of Commons to cast a vote Tuesday evening. “I think it’s right that gay people should be able to get married too,” the British leader said in a last-minute televised interview. “This is, yes, about equality, but it’s also about making our society stronger… It’s an important step forward for our country.” ―Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times. For more global GLBT rights updates, please find Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil'sEkta Transglobal Foundation on Facebook!