Barrie Drewitt-Barlow says, “We want to be able to go into our local parish church, where we are practicing Christians, and under the eyes of the Lord get married.”
The British House of Commons is set to vote on a bill to introduce same-sex marriage legislation today. The bill, which is causing significant controversy within the Conservative Party of Prime Minister David Cameron,would allow religious organizations to conduct same-sex marriages if they so choose, but it also protects those same religious organizations from being forced to do so if they prefer not to. The bill also allows same-sex couples who are already part of a civil partnership, which was legalized in 2004, to make that union a legally recognized marriage. It also provides for married transsexual people to “gain legal recognition in their acquired gender,” without having to end their already recognized heterosexual marriage.
According to CNN, Three of the country’s top party members, Chancellor George Osborne, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Home Secretary Theresa May, published a letter in the Telegraph urging Conservative Members of Parliament to support the controversial legislation. They said that passing the proposed bill is,
[T]he right thing to do at the right time … The institution of marriage has evolved over time, while attitudes towards gay people have changed … We believe that opening it [marriage] up to same-sex couples will strengthen, not weaken, the institution. As David Cameron has said, we should support gay marriage not in spite of being Conservatives, but because we are Conservatives.”
Prime Minister Cameron has made it clear that he is determined to push legislation through that legalizes same-sex marriage. He said he is choosing to do this, although it has put him at odds with a significant number of members within his own party, “not only as someone who believes in equality but as someone who believes passionately in marriage.”
This will be the first time members in the House of Commons will have the chance to debate the bill in detail, and although there is opposition it is very likely to pass with support of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats in the House. Lawmakers are not required to vote along party lines this time, but can instead vote based on their own “personal convictions.” However, even if the bill does pass in the House of Commons, it must still go through several more stages before becoming law, including gaining approval in the House of Lords.
The Church of England, which is strongly opposed to the bill, said in a letter to lawmakers Friday that it cannot support the legislation “because of its concern for the uncertain and unforeseen consequences for wider society and the common good when marriage is redefined in gender-neutral terms.” The letter also asserts that a civil partnership between same-sex couples already “confer[s] the same rights as marriage,” but that by allowing gay-marriage the legislation will be opening the door to “continued legal disputes for years to come.”