LONDON, UK — The UK parliament’s House of Lords voted down an attempt to derail a gay marriage bill by a 2-1 majority Tuesday night, moving the UK closer to legalizing same-sex marriage.
“Pleased Lords vote to give #SameSexMarriage Bill safe passage to Committee by 390 to 148. Yay!” British lawmaker, Stephen Williams of Bristol, posted on Twitter. Williams describes himself in his Twitter bio as “liberal, gay, Welsh-Bristolian.”
The bill has several more procedural hurdles to clear in the upper house. Were it to pass, same-sex marriages could begin taking place in the UK as early as next summer, the BBC reported.
Currently, only civil partnerships — a legal classification with fewer protections than marriage — are available to UK couples of the same gender.
The lower House of Commons voted to pass the bill on May 21 with 205 votes. Prime Minister David Cameron, a staunch supporter of same-sex marriage, introduced the bill.
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“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,” said Colin Hart of the Coalition for Marriage, an anti-marriage equality campaign group that called Cameron a “marriage wrecker” for his support of the bill.
Pro-gay marriage campaigners were no less ready to back down.
“In the last 24 hours alone, opponents of equality in the House of Lords have compared loving, committed relationships to incest and polygamy,” said Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights group Stonewall, in a statement posted on their website. “Britain’s 3.7 million gay people don’t deserve to be second class citizens in their own country.”
The debate over same sex marriage in the UK has elicited some decidedly wacky quotes, from Tory parliament member Sir Gerald Howarth’s worries about the “aggressive homosexual community” to former Conservative Party chairman Norman Tebbit’s musings over a potential lesbian queen.
In discussing her vote against the bill with BBC radio on Wednesday, Conservative peer Baroness Jill Knight made a point of saying that she had nothing against gay people.
“We’ve all got friends who are homosexuals,” said Knight, 88. “They’re often extremely clever, very, very good at artistic things, very, very good at things like antiques. Knowledgeable. And certainly no reason at all to say they’re not loving.”