After a full day of debate, same-sex marriage has been approved in England and Wales by a big majority in a key vote in Parliament.
The Commons voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, by 400 to 175, a majority of 225. But this is just the first of several votes needed for the bill to pass. Nevertheless, supporters outside were jubilant.
“There’s still a long way to go. Changing people’s values and culture takes a long time. Sometimes you have to change the laws first if you can, and that’s what we are doing now. And I think, you know, in a few years time people will look back to today and think what was all the fuzz about – that was quite extraordinary.” said MP Caroline Lucas, speaking in Parliament Square after the vote.
The new law proposes legalising same-sex marriage in 2014. It would also allow civil partners to convert their arrangement into a marriage.
“Those who are oppose same sex marriage are basically saying that they support discrimination, and that gay couples are unworthy. That’s profoundly insulting. In a democratic society everyone should be equal before the law.” said high-profile gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s authority took another hit, however. The Conservatives split in two in the free vote on the measure he himself had introduced.