The United Kingdom’s marriage equality bill has passed the country’s lower house of parliament in a vote 366-161 and will now enter the House of Lords (upper house) for final scrutiny.
If the bill passes, same-sex marriage will be legal in England and Wales.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill had already passed the Commons in February by a 225-vote majority. The chamber discussed plans for the second time to consider potential amendments, including whether to allow civil unions for opposite-sex couples.
Support for marriage equality legislation is believed to be less certain in the Lords. Lord Geoffrey Dear, a prominent member of the chamber, stated last month that there was already “considerable opposition in the Lords” which could potentially derail the legislation. Lord Dear predicted there would be a “very close vote” on the Marriage Bill.
“I am very concerned about the lack of process for legislation which is as cataclysmic and knee-jerk as this,” Lord Dear told 429Magazine.
“To pretend the word [marriage]is the same for something with fundamental biological or physiological differences is muddling up sameness and equality,” he added.
However, Prime Minister David Cameron has emphasized his support for marriage equality, describing it as “an important step forward” and saying it will “make our society stronger.”
An opinion poll published on Sunday showed that a clear majority of the UK public were in support of marriage equality. 54 percent approve of the issue with 36 percent against. Interestingly, of those who are supporters of Cameron’s Conservative party, the figures are 48 percent against same-sex marriage and 45 percent in favor.
Since 2005, the UK has formalized same-sex relationships through civil partnerships. Couples are afforded rights and responsibilities very similar to civil marriage, but without the name.