Skip to main content

UK's House of Commons approves same-sex marriage

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
May 22, 2013 -- Updated 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)
Demonstration for equal rights for gay couples in Trafalgar Square cental London on March 24, 2013.
Demonstration for equal rights for gay couples in Trafalgar Square cental London on March 24, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: House of Commons approves same-sex marriage
  • PM David Cameron backs the bill, but many in his party oppose it
  • Cameron is also under pressure from party members over Britain's role in Europe
  • The Church of England is among religious bodies opposed to same-sex marriage

London (CNN) -- Legislation to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales won passage Tuesday in the House of Commons.

The vote was 366 for, 161 against. The bill now goes to the House of Lords, where it will face further opposition.

A rebellion within Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party threatened to derail the bill.

Tuesday brought the second day of discussions on the legislation. Members of Parliament voted Monday on a series of amendments to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

Cameron backs the bill but his commitment to it has put him at odds with many in his own party and its grassroots supporters. The Conservatives govern in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

The bill was kept on track Monday thanks to the support of members of the opposition Labour Party, who voted to oppose an amendment that many Conservative rebels backed.

Same-sex marriage: Who will legalize it next?

The amendment, which was put forward by MP Tim Loughton, proposed extending civil partnerships to heterosexual couples as well as same-sex couples.

Uruguay legalizes same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage around the world

Minister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller, the sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill, argued that this would result in significant expense and delay, thus derailing the whole bill.

Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted Monday: "David Cameron's inability to control his party must not be allowed to wreck the Equal Marriage Bill. Labour's commitment unwavering."

A law recognizing civil partnerships in England and Wales was passed in 2004.

The Church of England is among the religious bodies opposed to the new legislation.

The issue of same-sex marriage has exposed painful divisions within Cameron's party, with many lawmakers already fractious over his position on Europe.

Under pressure, Cameron's government last week published a draft bill promising a referendum by 2017 on Britain's membership of the European Union. The Conservative Party faces a political threat from the UK Independence Party, which has vowed to take Britain out of Europe.

Controversy has also blown up following weekend UK media reports that quoted a senior ally of Cameron describing party activists as "swivel-eyed loons."

In an effort to dampen the flames, Cameron sent an e-mail late Monday to party supporters, according to UK media reports, saying he was proud of their work and would "never have around me those who sneered" at them.

Same-sex marriage around the world

The issue of same-sex marriage has also prompted wide disagreement elsewhere.

On Saturday, French President Francois Hollande signed into law a bill allowing marriage and adoption for same-sex couples despite vocal opposition from many conservatives and the Catholic Church.

The step made France the ninth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage.

If Uruguay and New Zealand enact legislation approved by their lawmakers as expected, the count of nations worldwide allowing same-sex marriage will rise to 14.

The first same-sex couples walked down the aisle in the Netherlands in 2001, with others following suit in Canada, South Africa, Belgium and Spain. Argentina was the first Latin American nation to legalize such marriages, in 2010. Other countries on the list are Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.

Many countries remain split over the issue. A Brazilian court this week issued a directive removing a barrier that had limited same-sex marriage, but no bill has made it through Congress.

In the United States, the question went before the Supreme Court and justices are deliberating over the matter.

Twelve U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage. On the other side, many states have specific laws blocking same-sex couples from legally marrying.

UK lawmakers approve same-sex marriage in first vote

New Zealand's Parliament votes to legalize same-sex marriage

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Hamas' tactics have changed -- now the group is using commando-like tactics, says CNN's Ben Wedeman.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 0021 GMT (0821 HKT)
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledges he got "very close" to helping achieve peace in the Middle East.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0621 GMT (1421 HKT)
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Inspirational, creepy or just weird? CNN meets the 51-year-old man who dresses like a schoolgirl.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1100 GMT (1900 HKT)
A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1112 GMT (1912 HKT)
Yoga, meditation and watching a snake eat a frog alive: these are some of the experiences to be had at this Himalayan yoga retreat.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
The world's largest flying aquatic insect, with huge, nightmarish pincers, has been discovered in China's Sichuan province, experts say.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT