British House of Lords Gives Initial Approval To Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Baroness Tina Stowell of Beeston (in yellow jacket) summing up from the Government bench

Following two days of second reading debate involving over 90 speakers, the British House of Lords has voted to move the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill to the next stage of consideration, the committee stage.

The bill, which would legalize marriage for same-sex couples in England and Wales, was passed overwhelmingly by the House of Commons on March 21st on a third reading vote of 366 to 161.

YouGov polls have shown consistent public support for the bill.

Prior to the voice vote that advanced the bill, the amendment offered by crossbencher Lord Geoffrey Dear, which would have killed the bill immediately, was decisively defeated 390 to 148.  Lord Peter Fowler, a Conservative, seemed to capture the sense of many voting against the amendment when he said:

I accept and recognise that this is an appointed House, and it is an enormous privilege to be appointed to it. However, with that privilege come limitations on what we can do. Of course we can question legislation and seek to improve it. However, in my view, we cannot defeat at Second Reading the declared will of the House of Commons when, on a free vote, it has voted by over two to one to pass this legislation.

The Lords’ committee stage examination of the bill will begin on June 17.  Bill progress can be monitored here.

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