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UK lawmakers vote in favor of gay marriage

By Layne Weiss     Feb 5, 2013 in World
London - Members of Parliament approved same-sex marriage in England and Wales Tuesday in a key Commons vote. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill cleared a major barrier as nearly half the conservative MPs opposed it.
After a full day's debate on the bill, The Commons voted in favor of same-sex marriage, 400-175, BBC News reports.
British Prime Minister David Cameron described the vote as an "important step forward" that will strengthen British society.
While Tuesday's vote shows there is a significant majority in favor of same-sex marriage, the measure must go through several more steps before it can officially become a law, CNN reports.
The bill must pass another vote in the House of Commons as well as a vote in the House of Lords.
According to The Associated Press, the process could take months to officially pass, but after all is said and done, if the bill passes, it is expected to take effect in 2015 and would allow same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies. In cases where couples want to marry in a religious ceremony, the religious institution would have to consent, but it would be a private matter. The bill would also allow couples in civil partnerships to amend their relationship into an official marriage.
In 2004, a law recognizing civil partnerships was passed in England and Wales.
Tony and Barrie Dewitt-Barlow, a same sex couple involved in a civil partnership told CNN they would be truly honored by the chance to get married in front of their fellow churchgoers. The couple has five children together, and want to make their love official, under God.
The couple are practicing Christians and it is important to Barrie they get married at their local church. Meanwhile, Tony wants the same thing, but he doesn't want to get married in front of a priest who isn't comfortable performing the ceremony. He said his wedding day should be "the happiest day" of his life. "I want to be really happy and joyous when I get married to the man that I've been together with for 25 years." If the priest at their local church agrees to perform the ceremony, it would just add to the blissfulness of the beautiful day. But for Tony, it seems as if this bill passes and he and Barry can finally make their love legal, it will be enough, no matter who performs the ceremony.
Supporters of same-sex marriage believe same-sex relationships should be treated no differently than heterosexual ones, but critics are concerned it would change the overall meaning of marriage, which many believe should be between a man and a woman, The AP reports. Some Conservatives are fearful from a political standpoint. If the bill gets passed, it could cost the Conservative party a lot of votes.
"We do respect the equal value of men and women, but surely that doesn't avoid us looking and celebrating difference, and marriage is a great way of celebrating the difference between a man and a woman," Conservative MP David Burrowes told BBC News.
He predicted that the legislation would face significant opposition once it gets to the House of Lords.
Prime Minister Cameron said Tuesday he is determined to get this law passed and see same-sex marriage legalized in the United Kingdom, CNN reports. Cameron is a Conservative whose views on the matter leave him at odds with his own party, and his views on why gay marriage should be legalized somewhat mirror those of Conservative MP David Burrowes, but Prime Minister Cameron looks at things in a different way. The two believe in the importance and sanctity of marriage, but for Cameron, he believes "so passionately" in marriage and in the idea of two people coming together and making their love official, he doesn't care if it's between two members of the opposite sex or the same sex.
Meanwhile, in the United States, President Barack Obama has made his support for same-sex marriage clear. So far, nine US states (CT, IA, ME, MD, MA, NY, VT, and WA) plus Washington, DC have total freedom to marry same-sex couples. In New Jersey, a freedom to marry bill was passed, but was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie. Lawmakers are working on ways to override the veto.
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