On 24 January 2013 Rt Hon Maria Miller MP introduced the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill to Parliament. The Bill sets out the necessary legislation to extend the legal form of marriage to same-sex couples. On Tuesday 21 May the Bill passed its Third Reading vote in the House of Commons by 366 votes to 161 free from any wrecking amendments.
The Bill has now made its way to the House of Lords where we expect a tough fight ahead of us.
On Tuesday 5 February 2013 the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons.
This is the first opportunity that MPs had to discuss the Bill in detail and vote on the proposals. We were delighted that MPs voted overwhelmingly to support marriage equality in England and Wales.
The final vote in favour of equal marriage was 400 to 175 - a majority of 225.
You can see our full statement welcoming the result here.
Following the Second Reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the House of Commons the Bill proceeded to Committee.
The first stage of the Bill Committee allowed individuals and organisations to give evidence and opinions about the Bill. Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill gave detailed evidence to the Committee on Tuesday 12 February.
The second stage of the Bill Committee allows MPs - from all of the main political parties - to scrutinise the proposals in greater detail. MPs can look through each part of the Bill and table amendments.
Stonewall has attended all of the Committee sessions and has briefed MPs throughout the process. We've also been covering proceedings via social media.
You can view transcripts of Committee debate and read any amendments tabled here.
Some of the amendments are quite technical so feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.
The Report stage of the Bill took place on the 20 and 21 May 2013. This allowed MPs further opportunity to discuss and amend specific clauses of the Bill. A number of clear wrecking amendments were proposed and debated.
At the end of the first day of Report stage the House of Commons rejected an amendment - by 375 votes to 70 - designed to wreck the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. The amendment, tabled by vocal opponents of equality, would have resulted in significant delays to the Bill's implementation.
Third Reading of the Bill took place on 21 May and gave MPs the opportunity to debate the Bill as a whole. The Bill passed its Third Reading vote in the House of Commons by 366 votes to 161 free from any wrecking amendments.
You can read the full debate for the first day of Report Stage here.
The Bill has now made its way to the House of Lords. It will again have to complete Second Reading, Committee, Report Stage and Third Reading in the Lords. Second Reading is scheduled for June 3.
Once both MPs and Members of the House of Lords have agreed, the Bill will be sent for Royal Assent.This is where the Queens signs a Bill therefore making it law.
Contact your MP
On 21 May MPs voted overwhelmingly to support marriage equality in England and Wales. 366 MPs voted to back the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at Third Reading in the House of Commons.
Sadly, 161 MPs voted against this modest final measure of equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
If your MP did not vote to support marriage equality you might want to write to them and ask why. If you voted for them at the last General Election you may also want to let them know how their decision might influence your vote in future.
You can see a full list of how MPs voted at Third Reading here. To find out who your MP is or how to contact them click here.
Long-term same-sex relationships are being publicly compared to bestiality, slavery and child abuse by opponents of equal marriage – who will stop at almost nothing to prevent Britain’s lesbian, gay and bisexual people from enjoying this last measure of equality. Organised opposition from groups such as the so-called Coalition for Marriage and the Catholic Church is attempting to gain momentum and media coverage to whip up a public frenzy.
We know this campaign will only intensify over the coming weeks and months, making it critical that we make sure the voices of Britain’s 3.7 million gay people are heard above the bigotry and ignorance.
Your donation will help us tackle this very well-funded campaign against equality and help us continue to push for the extension of the legal form of marriage to same-sex couples. You can donate to our equal marriage campaign here.
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We’ll be campaigning hard over the coming months to ensure that MPs and members of the House of Lords support this final modest measure of legislative equality.
Stonewall has long campaigned for the extension of the legal form of marriage to same-sex couples and we warmly welcome the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.
We’re particularly pleased that ministers have been persuaded to extend their original proposal to permit same-sex marriages for those religious denominations that wish to hold them. Read Stonewall's statement on the announcement.
We’ll be campaigning hard over the coming months to ensure that MPs and Members of the House of Lords pass this final modest measure of legislative equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in England and Wales. Sadly, recent deeply offensive comments comparing marriage equality with slavery, child abuse, polygamy and bestiality clearly show that we still face significant opposition.
This is why in July we launched our 'Say I Do to Equal Marriage' appeal to make sure we can continue to push for this final measure of legislative equality. For more information and to support our campaign click here.
We'll also be urging all supporters of marriage equality to make their voices heard by writing, emailing or even tweeting their MPs.
You can also download one of our e-postcards to show your support for equality online.
In June 2012 Stonewall published our Living Together research based on polling of over 2,000 people. It has clearly shown that seven in ten people in Britain, and crucially three in five people of faith, support the government proposals. This rises to over four in five people under 50.
Also in June the government closed its consultation on its intention to extend the legal form of marriage to same-sex couples. We submitted our detailed response in March and urged all supporters of marriage equality to get involved in our campaign and respond to the consultation themselves.
We’ve also published a range of visual materials encouraging the government to expedite its plans to extend the legal form of marriage to same-sex couples and permit religious denominations to celebrate same-sex marriages if they wish.
‘Some People Are Gay. Get On With It!’ e-postcards and social media profile pictures and banners are available to download as part of Stonewall’s continuing campaign for equal marriage following the end of the government’s consultation in June. Order 'Some People Are Gay. Get On With It!' postcards here.
On 14 February 2012 Stonewall published a draft parliamentary Bill for extending the legal form of marriage to same-sex couples. The simple two-page Bill of five clauses outlines the legislative steps necessary to allow same-sex couples to marry. Click here to read the draft Marriage Bill.
In June 2011 Stonewall published a draft consultation response which set out the key questions that would likely be raised when the government published its own consultation. You can read it here.
Stonewall Scotland is also working with the Scottish Government to achieve same-sex marriage in Scotland. To find out more about Stonewall Scotland's work click here.
Stonewall fought long and hard for the introduction of civil partnerships in 2005. Sadly, as recently as 2010 Lord Tebbit stated: ‘We should be utterly, completely and absolutely clear that a civil partnership is not a marriage, cannot be a marriage, never will be a marriage and should be treated entirely separately from marriage.’
By insisting that marriage and civil partnerships must be kept separate and distinct, opponents of equality still perpetuate the offensive notion, even if inadvertently, that relationships between same-sex people are not as stable, rich or valid as those between heterosexual couples. It is clear that these views impact negatively on public attitudes towards gay people themselves.
We therefore want to see civil marriage available to same-sex couples on the same basis as heterosexual marriage - available in a registry office but without a mandate on religious organisations to celebrate it.