On Tuesday, the United Kingdom House of Commons approved a bill which grants same-sex couples the right to marry on a 400 to 175 vote. Since 2004, citizens of England and Wales have only been granted civil partnerships. If the “Marriage Bill” passes in the House of Lords and becomes law, LGBTQ unions will be recognized as marriages nationwide in civil and religious ceremonies. Existing civil partnerships will be able to be converted into a recognized marriage. The bill will also allow transgender individuals to be legally recognized as their preferred gender without jeopardizing their unions.
MPs who oppose the bill take issue with the concept of a gay partnership being blessed. Sir Roger Gale suggested giving civil unions more power instead of granting gay men and women the right to marry. He believes the priority must be to “strengthen the concept that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.” However, the bill allows individual religious institutions to decide whether or not they will perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.
Others view the bill’s passage as a sign of great nation human rights progress. “This is a proud day and an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain,” said UK Labour leader Ed Miliband. The British Prime Minister David Cameron said of the passage “Last night’s vote will be seen not just as making sure there is a proper element of equality, but also helping us to build a stronger and fairer society.”