MPs pass same-sex marriage bill in final third reading

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MPs have voted 366 – 161 overwhelmingly in favour of passing the Marriage (Same Sex Couples Bill) – in its third reading in the House of Commons – giving it a majority of 205.

Shortly before the vote took place, Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller told MPs:

“I accept that for some colleagues their beliefs mean that the principle of this issue is an insurmountable barrier to supporting this change.

“But to other colleagues I say, now is the time.

“Let us not be side-tracked nor distracted. Let us not expand the remit of this bill beyond its original intention.

“Let us make equal marriage possible because it is the right thing to do and then let us move on.

“I am pleased to commend this bill to the House.”

It has been a dramatic two days at Westminster. On Monday the bill risked being derailed and required the support of Labour MPs to overcome a potentially lethal wrecking amendment.

Further complications were raised on Tuesday afternoon because of an amendment concerning Humanist marriage ceremonies.

Even though it had widespread support from Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs – the amendment was withdrawn after the attorney general warned that it would fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Under the bill, the Church of England and the Church in Wales would be banned from offering same-sex marriages because of their strongly stated opposition, unless they changed canon law.

Other religious organisations would be able to “opt in” to holding ceremonies. There are currently no plans for similar legislation in Northern Ireland, but there are already plans for a bill to allow same-sex marriage in Scotland.

Getting the bill passed the Commons has been an enormous challenge for Prime Minister David Cameron.

Yesterday, in an exclusive interview with, gay Conservative MP Crispin Blunt conceded that it has cost the Tory leader support from within his party.

“He’s made his point, everyone knows the fire he’s going through with some of his own colleagues in order to deliver this and I hope people are going to be appropriately grateful for the fantastic leadership that he’s shown on this.”

In terms of the current opposition to the measure, Mr Blunt added: “Once this is done, it’s finished, it’s over and everyone will wonder what on earth all the fuss was about.”

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will now travel to the House of Lords for further scrutiny, debate and voting.

MPs voted in favour of the bill by 400 to 175, a majority of 225, in February’s second reading.

More soon.