By Brittny Drye
On Tuesday, UK lawmakers will be making the first of many rounds of voting for a same-sex marriage legislation.
The bill, which has caused a fierce rebellion within Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative party, as well as the Church of England, will be voted on by the House of Commons, and if passed, must go through several more stages including approval in the House of Lords before it becomes a law.
If passed, not only would England and Wales begin legally recognizing same-sex marriage, but it would also allow same-sex couples to convert a civil partnership to a marriage and enable married transgender people to gain legal recognition in their acquired gender without having to end their marriage.
Vowing to push this legislation during his tenure as prime minister has earned Cameron many enemies within his party. In order to woo Conservative MPs on the controversial legislation, three top party members, Chancellor George Osborne, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Home Secretary Theresa May, released a letter to the Telegraph:
Civil partnerships for gay couples were a great step forward, but the question now is whether it is any longer acceptable to exclude people from marriage simply because they love someone of the same sex.
Marriage has evolved over time. We believe that opening it up to same-sex couples will strengthen, not weaken, the institution. As David Cameron has said, we should support gay marriage not in spite of being Conservatives, but because we are Conservatives.
Our party also has a strong belief in religious freedom, a vital element of a free society. The Bill ensures that no faith group will be forced to conduct same-sex marriages. The legal advice is clear that these protections for religious groups cannot be overturned by the courts.
Religious freedom works both ways. Why should faith groups, such as the Quakers, that wish to conduct gay marriages be forbidden from doing so? This Bill will enhance religious freedom, not restrict it.
Attitudes towards gay people have changed. A substantial majority of the public now favour allowing same-sex couples to marry, and support has increased rapidly. This is the right thing to do at the right time. We will be among the Conservative MPs voting for this Bill today.
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