Gay Marriage to be legalized in Britain
On Tuesday February 5, British lawmakers voted in favor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill was supported by Prime Minister David Cameron. In a first House of Commons vote, lawmakers voted 400 to 175 in upholding the legislation. There was a majority support from the left-leaning Labour Party and Liberal Democrats party, but about half of the Conservative party rejected or refused the proposals.
The bill will have to undergo more parliamentary debates and a vote in the House of Lords, where a vote in favor is likely to be given strong support. If the bill does become law, it would enable same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies. The bill would also allow couples who have previously went into civil partnerships to change their relationship into a marriage.
Passing the bill is, “an important step forward” for Britain, said Cameron. “I am a strong believer in marriage. It helps people commit to each other and I think it is right that gay should be able to get married too,” he said. “This is, yes, about equality. But it is also about making our society stronger.”
Officials have said that all religious organizations will have to decide for themselves if they want to hold gay weddings. However, the Church of England, the country’s primary faith, is against carrying out such ceremonies. This provision attempts to guarantee that the Church, which is against gay marriage, is protected from legal demands that as the official state religion it must marry anyone who requests it.
Presently, same-sex couples only have the choice to have a civil partnership, which offers the same legal treatment as marriage across a varied range of matters, such as inheritance, pension provision, life insurance, child maintenance, and of kin and immigration rights. Meanwhile, opposite-sex couples are offered both a religious and civil marriage ceremony, while a same-sex partnership can only receive a civil process.
Supporters argue that gay relationships should be treated the same way as heterosexual relationships. However, critics are concerned that the proposals would change the traditional outlook on the meaning of marriage. Some Conservatives also worry that the proposals would cause the party to lose many votes in the coming election.
“Marriage is the union between a man and a woman, has been historically, and remains so. It is Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian almost, for any government of any political persuasion to seek to come along and try to re-write the lexicon,” Conservative lawmaker, Roger Gale said.
If passed, the bill’s provisions will be enforced in 2015. These provisions only apply to England and Wales- there are no plans for a similar legislation in Northern Ireland. However, Scotland is considering a similar bill.
As for America, the government is continuing to struggle with the challenge of legalizing same-sex marriage in all states. Only nine states in America have legalized gay marriage. As for President Barak Obama, he is determined to make a case for same-sex marriage a more national approach, as was stated in his Inaugural Address last month.