The U.K. House of Commons voted Monday to allow gay and unmarried couples to adopt children, following the resignation of a Conservative Party member who quit because of the party leader's stance against such adoptions. Currently, single heterosexuals and gay men and lesbians in the United Kingdom may adopt children, but unmarried and gay couples may not. After a five-hour debate, the Commons voted 344-145 for the amendment to the Adoption and Children Bill, defying a vote earlier this month by the House of Lords that rejected such a change in the law. With only three days left in the parliamentary session, the vote will return to the House of Lords on Tuesday, which must decide whether to return the issue to the more powerful House of Commons.
Earlier Monday, before the Commons vote, Conservative Party lawmaker John Bercow quit as its spokesman on work and pensions. The resignation was another blow to embattled Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who is caught between party modernizers and traditionalists. There have been persistent news reports that Duncan Smith's leadership is under threat from within the party. The eight Conservative Party legislators who defied him and voted for the amendment included Michael Portillo, a popular party official who is often seen as a possible successor to Duncan Smith and who has acknowledged having engaged in same-sex sexual activity.