Bill clears way for 2014 gay weddings in England

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LONDON - Legislation to legalize gay marriage finally cleared [Great Britain's] Parliament on July 16, paving the way for the first gay weddings in England and Wales next summer.

MPs decided not to oppose a number of changes to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, made in the House of Lords.

Among the changes agreed by peers were protections for transgender couples which will allow people to change sex and remain married.

There will also be a review of whether belief organizations such as the Humanists will be allowed to carry out marriages, while ministers said they were prepared to look at eliminating any difference in the treatment of gay couples when it came to pension schemes.

During a two-hour Commons debate several Labour MPs wore pink carnations, including shadow women and equalities minister Yvette Cooper. [A "shadow minister" is a member of the main opposition party in Parliament who would hold ministerial office if their party were in power.]

She said: "The truth is while we have debated in this House we have been lobbied, but we have also been serenaded and most fabulously by the London Gay Men's Chorus who sang rousing versions of Get Me To The Church On Time which we all joined in as the Bill passed its second reading in the House of Lords.

In a statement gay rights charity Stonewall said: "This is an historic moment for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, their families and their friends. This Bill will mean that, for the first time, children growing up to be gay in England and Wales will have full equality in law."

But former Tory former defense minister Sir Gerald Howarth accused the government of bulldozing the "wretched" legislation through Parliament despite it offending large swathes of the Conservative Party.

Reposted from Morning Star, London.

Editor's note: There are three judicial systems in the UK; a combined system for England and Wales, one for Scotland and one for Northern Ireland.

A similar bill to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act has been tabled in the Scottish Parliament. It will debate this bill soon.

There is currently no bill proposed for the Northern Ireland Assembly and previous attempts to introduce legislation similar to the law that passed in England and Wales have failed.

More information is available on Pink News.

Photo: At a Pride parade in Nottinham, England. Matt Buck, CC BY-SA 2.0

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