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While the vote was overwhelmingly in favor, initial reports suggest that Prime Minister Cameron could not get even half of those Conservative MP's actually voting to vote for a measure he himself supported. (Update: Labour Whips office suggested that 139 Tories had voted against the Bill, with 132 in favour. Dozens more did not vote. -- This is Lancashire)

British politicians have backed legalising gay marriage in the first of several votes on the issue. The draft law, which proposes legalising same-sex marriage in 2014, was carried by 400 votes to 175 votes in the House of Commons.

The vote in the House of Commons was "free", meaning MPs from across the political spectrum were able to vote according to their conscience rather than under party orders.

The legislation is several stages away from becoming law, but debate on the issue has already split Prime Minister David Cameron's ruling Conservative party in two. In a sign of how divisive the issue has become for Mr Cameron, the finance minister, the foreign secretary and the interior minister wrote a joint letter to a national newspaper today, urging fellow Conservatives to vote in favour.

The new law proposes legalising same-sex marriage in England and Wales in 2014.

Now the bill goes to committee and, at some later date, comes back - possibly amended - to the House of Commons for a third and final reading.

A snarky ramble on this and other European marriage equality topics earlier today: A Gay Marriage Curtain Is Descending Across Europe.

11:54 AM PT: Labour Party leader Ed Milliband released a statement:

This is a proud day and an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain. The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs supported this change to make sure marriage reflects the value we place on long-term, loving relationships whoever you love. Equal marriage builds on Labour’s successes in government which include the repeal of Section 28, equalising the age of consent, the introduction of civil partnerships and changes to the rules governing adoption.
11:58 AM PT:

11:59 AM PT:

2:04 PM PT: Illinois on its way as well.  The vote was 9-5 in committee.

An Illinois Senate committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the state.

Originally posted to jpmassar on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 11:46 AM PST.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality, Milk Men And Women, Angry Gays, Progressive Policy Zone, Anglican Kossacks, and LGBT Kos Community.

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