The UK is poised to erupt in cheers as a Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was just approved by Prime Minister David Cameron. The bill is set to undergo its final debate in the lower House of Commons, and if passed, would allow same-sex marriage in the England and Wales as early as next summer.
Amid some vicious opposition from more than 100 lawmakers from Cameron's own Conservative Party, members of the house cast their votes nonetheless — even while wearing pink carnations to mark the occasion. The next step in the Commons means that the amendments introduced by the House Of Lords will be considered and, if accepted, will be sent to Queen Elizabeth II to be signed and thus become law.
Interestingly, although Cameron himself signed off on the legislation, the bill created heated tensions within the party and its grass-roots supporters. In fact, the PM had to gather the support of his own opposition, the Labour Party, to get the legislation through the Commons. According to Bloomberg News, "Activists say it is driving Conservative voters toward the U.K. Independence Party, which made gains in local elections in May at the expense of the Tories and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners."
As is expected, there is significant resistance from various religious bodies like the Church of England and conservative lawmakers. Coalition for Marriage, an umbrella UK organization that support traditional marriage between a man and a woman, has collected more than 650,000 signatures on a petition opposing any attempt to redefine it. Regardless, the bill is expected to be ratified with all amendments from the House of Lords, and will likely move forward to gain royal approval this week.
Chief Executive Ben Summerskill of Stonewall, a gay rights campaign group, commented that "It's impossible to express how much joy this historic step will bring to tens of thousands of gay people and their families and friends."
With their recent progress, Summerskill also stated that Stonewall would emphasize its efforts in Scotland, "so that every single gay person in Britain will soon enjoy full equality."
This progressive headway follows right on the heels of LGBTQ rights around the world, including the law that allowed same-sex couples to marry and adopt in France this year, and in our own United States, where two landmark rulings by the Supreme Court gave the gay and lesbian rights movement huge political and legal momentum.