Thursday, 7 February 2013 7:45 AM
In a historic step forward for equality and gay rights, MPs have voted overwhelmingly in favour of same-sex marriage. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was passed in the House of Commons yesterday by 400 votes to 175, a majority of 225. The British Humanist Association (BHA), which has long supported same-sex marriage and has for decades conducted same sex weddings, very much welcomes the vote.
If it becomes law, the Bill will enable same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies. All three of the main party leaders support the Bill, but MPs were given a free vote, meaning that the party whips did not instruct their members to vote a particular way. After the result of the vote was read out in a packed House of Commons, there was applause in the public gallery. MPs’ decision to support the Bill at its second reading shows that they approve of it in principle, and now that the second reading has been passed, the Bill is set to receive more detailed scrutiny in Parliament.
BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented, ‘We are delighted by the vote in the House of Commons yesterday, which represents a historic step forward for gay, lesbian and bisexual rights. Humanists have been campaigning for civil rights for LGB people for many years, and the BHA is a long-standing supporter of same-sex marriage. Humanists have supported gay rights campaigners over the past few decades who been successful in changing the law to remove homophobic discrimination in other areas (such as the age of consent), as well as creating a massive shift in social attitudes. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, if it becomes law, will represent another crucial step towards the achievement of full equality.
‘While we unequivocally welcome the measures in this Bill, we very much regret that the government in England and Wales does not propose to allow humanists celebrants to conduct legal same-sex marriages, as religions will now be permitted to do, and as humanist celebrants in Scotland will be permitted to do. Humanist celebrants have been carrying out same-sex weddings for decades and their exclusion from this Bill is shoddy. We look forward to working with MPs to seek amendments to the Bill which will include them.’
For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0773 843 5059.
BBC News – Gay marriage: Party leaders hail vote:
The Guardian – Gay marriage: MPs vote in favour leaves Cameron adrift from Tories:
Previous BHA news articles about the Same-Sex Marriage Bill:
The BHA’s campaign on marriage laws:
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.
Head of Public Affairs, British Humanist Association
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