Christian historian and columnist for the Daily Telegraph, Tim...
Bishops fail to block same-sex marriage
Gay marriage in England and Wales is one step closer after it cleared the first hurdle in the House of Lords.
Same-sex marriage in England and Wales is one step closer after it cleared the first hurdle in the House of Lords.
An amendment by Lord Dear could have killed off the plans altogether, but the government bill was given its second reading after the motion was defeated by 390 votes to 148.
While 26 bishops could have used their vote just nine - including the Archbishop of Canterbury - voted to block the proposals going forward while five abstained.
The other twelve chose to stay away from the debate. The Bishop of Leicester Rt Revd Tim Stevens - who was one of the five - said he opposed the bill but didn't want to frustrate the will of the Commons.
The vote in the Lords has been welcomed by the Quakers in Britain. Deputy Recording Clerk of Quakers Juliet Prager said:
"A change in law to allow same-sex couples to marry will bring real joy to couples we know who say a civil partnership lacks spiritual expression.
"We welcome the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill because it is right for us; it will enrich marriage, and it will not be imposed on other faith bodies who do not yet share our view."
However, critics of the bill claimed not all had been lost. Colin Hart, Campaign Director for the Coalition for Marriage said:
"Despite the highly unusual procedure of voting against a Government bill at second reading, 148 peers have chosen to register their profound opposition to the gay marriage bill.
"The debate lifted the lid on the shoddy and undemocratic tactics of the Government who remain determined to ram this legislation through Parliament at all costs.
"They have used every trick to curtail scrutiny and crush opposition, but as today's result shows their tactics are failing.
"The Government may have won the vote today, but what was clear from the debate was the huge opposition to almost every part of the bill."
The Bill now goes to Committee Stage where peers will work through the details before a further debate and vote takes place. It'll then head back to the Commons and it's been reported we could see the first same sex marriage by July next year.
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