Marriage Equality Makes Progress in U.K.

Approval by the House of Commons moves the marriage bill forward.

BY Trudy Ring

May 21 2013 7:25 PM ET

British Conservative MP David Davies addresses a group of anti-marriage equality demonstrators gathering outside the Houses of Parliament in London today. The House of Commons approved the marriage equality bill, sending it on to the House of Lords.

The United Kingdom is moving closer to marriage equality, with the House of Commons approving a bill today to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales.

The House of Commons passed the measure by a vote of 366 to 161, moving it on to the House of Lords, the other chamber of Parliament, the BBC reports. Prime Minister David Cameron backs the bill and would like to see same-sex marriages begin by next summer. The U.K. currently offers civil partnerships to same-sex couples.

The bill had support from most Labour and Liberal Democratic members of Parliament, with much of the opposition coming from the Conservative Party, of which Cameron is a member. Some Conservatives had proposed offering civil partnerships to heterosexual couples if gay partners were granted equal marriage rights, a move that observers thought might impede the marriage bill’s chance of passing, but that proposal was defeated.

The House of Lords is expected to take up the marriage legislation Wednesday, and “further heated discussion” is likely, the BBC notes. There were demonstrations by marriage equality opponents outside the Parliament building today, and tensions continue within the Conservative Party. Lord Andrew Feldman, cochairman of the Conservatives, recently was accused of calling right-wing party activists “mad, swivel-eyed loons,” something he has denied, and some party members say Cameron and other Conservative leaders are out of touch with the rank and file.

Meanwhile, some Conservatives are putting homophobia on display, voicing concern about “the aggressive homosexual community” and the possibility of “the lesbian queen and the artificially inseminated heir.” Read more here.

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