Peers voted against a ‘wrecking’ amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Billl, by 390 to 148 votes. The proposal, which would have denied the bill a second reading, was tabled by Lord Dear, a former Chief Constable of West Midlands Police.
Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of gay rights organisation Stonewall, said: “We always expected a tough challenge in the House of Lords, and Lord Dear’s ‘fatal motion‘ – very rarely used – demonstrates the lengths to which a minority of peers are, sadly, still prepared to go to deny full equality to lesbian, gay and bisexual people.”
Some peers were critical of Lord Dear’s decision to force a vote, The Guardian reports, after the bill was passed at its third reading in the House of Commons by a large majority (366 votes to 161).
Baroness Noakes said:
“I hope we will respect the clear decision of the other place on a free vote. We can then move on to the job we are good at, as a revising chamber, testing all the detailed concerns that have rightly been raised by noble lords in this debate.”
Opponents promised to continue their fight against gay marriage. Colin Hart of the Coalition for Marriage said:
“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. We will continue to campaign to save traditional marriage and today’s vote and the concerns expressed by many peers mean we will be able to introduce safeguards that will protect teachers, registrars, chaplains and anyone who works in the public sector.”
The legislation now proceeds to the committee stage, when peers will examine the bill’s provisions in detail.