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The "Marriage (Same Sex Couples( Bill" for England and Wales is on track to become law by Friday. Monday it passed its final stages in the House of Lords where some minor changes were made.

Government minister Lady Stowell said the bill "puts right something which is wrong" and had been improved by detailed scrutiny in the Upper House. "I can't claim to be a gay rights campaigner, but I am a firm believer in justice and fairness," she said.

Among other things, the amendments require the Government to look into survivor benefits and what changes need to be made to employer's schemes.

It now goes back to the Commons for final consideration. This will include some Government amendments tidy up any of the sections etc after the Lords' changes. At the moment the exact timetable has not been established but all three days to Thursday, when the House adjourns for the Summer recess, have slots for considerations of Lords amendments.  The debate is likely to be before Wednesday to allow final passage and submission for Royal Assent. This is entirely formal and will be given by Lords Commissioners who are appointed by the Queen.  Assent is then announced by the Speakers in the Lords and Commons.

The new Act will only apply to England and Wales. The Scottish Parliament plans to pass parallel legislation in the Fall and Northern Ireland is unlikely to pass anything. Those living there can of course still marry in another of the constituent countries and it will be recognized throughout the UK for all public purposes.

As a piece of trivia; Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince William, is due to give birth any day. (Will be interesting to see whether the Law or the sprog appear first) The millennium old arrangements of primogeniture have been changed so, whether the child is a boy or girl, they will be third in line to the throne after Charles and William. He or she will be perfectly able to marry someone of the same sex under this law. Could be fun with some of the Commonwealth countries where they are still enforcing the old colonial anti-gay laws.

Also please note:

I have not referred to this as an "marriage equality" measure but used the exact title of the Bill; although it is close enough to warrant the tag. The existing arrangements for "civil partnerships" will still be available for same sex couples, but not opposite sex ones. Those in civil partnerships already will be able to convert these into marriages. Religious bodies are able to opt to hold same sex marriage ceremonies in accordance with their beliefs (you may note that one of the Lords amendments includes a Reform Synagogue onto the list of places authorised). The Church of England and its sister Church in Wales are not allowed to hold same-sex marriages as this would need a change in Canon Law which is dealt with by its General Synod.

In addition most (but I understand not all) anomalies for transsexual people who married or in a civil partnership and prior to this legislation obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate (the formal recognition of sexual re-assignment in the UK when a new birth certificates is also issued). Before the new acquired gender would have meant automatic dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership. Those who are now married will have protection but I believe there are currently no provisions to allow there to be a continuity for couples already affected.

The passage of the Bill does not mean same-sex couple marriages will start immediately. There are a number of regulations, concerning many aspects, where a different sex relationship may be implied which will need to be changed. It is likely that implementation will be co-ordinated with Scotland and sometime next Summer is likely.

More background is on the BBC site.

Originally posted to Lib Dem FoP on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 05:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 05:41:28 PM PDT

  •  That's Exciting. (7+ / 0-)

    England's come a long way since the days of Section 28. Good on them for finally tackling this issue, under a Tory PM no less!

    Some have been critical of the LibDems for their presence in a coalition with the Tories, but this is one place where it's doing real good for the people of England.

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

    by OllieGarkey on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 05:44:20 PM PDT

  •  Excellent news! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roycej, bythesea, Tennessee Dave, sfbob, koNko

    Republished to K4ME. You really didn't have to explain the title of the bill the way you did but I''m encouraged that you DID. Things are indeed changing.

    Columbine, Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Boston (h/t Charles Pierce) Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue

    by Dave in Northridge on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 05:55:40 PM PDT

  •  Good News (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And thanks for reporting on the progress.

    This probably won't gain much traction today but hoping for a more populous thread when you report the law passing.

    400ppm : what about my daughter's future?

    by koNko on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 09:08:22 PM PDT

  •  One of your links doesn't seem to work (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lib Dem FoP

    Perhaps it was updated after you included it above. I think the one you intended where you referenced "minor changes" can currently be found here.

    In general those minor changes appear to consist mainly of proofreading and housekeeping things. I'm very happy to see that the House of Lords did not, as some feared, undermine the main intent of the legislation.

    It's interesting to see what happens in a nation where there is an "established" religion. The bill can't require--or even permit--the Church of England to solemnize same-sex marriages because that requires a change to Canon law. At the same time, since England is one of those nations that grants specific recognition to religious bodies generally (apparently their referred to generically as "belief organizations" which I find somehow remarkably level-headed compared to how we view religions in the US), there is a whole body of civil law pertaining to the operation of those bodies--a totally foreign concept (so to speak) to those of us in the US. For that reason there is, unlike in the US, a state-recognized "Chief Rabbi." In fact it appears that each recognized branch of Judaism in the UK has its own Chief Rabbi.

    There is no clear indication as to when the law might take effect. In fact it seems as though things operate in the UK rather differently than they do here. It appears that the intention is to conform the language in existing laws to handle same-sex marriages before implementing the new law. This actually seems quite a  conscientious and rational approach to me.

    •  Faith leaders (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Because of the established church, Church of England bishops and archbishops are automatically members of the House of Lords. You will sometimes hear references to "all four quarters" of that house. These are the Lords Spiritual (the bishops), the Government and Opposition, which reflect the administration based on the Commons and not their numbers in the Lords, and the "Crossbenchers". These are peers appointed for the expertise in a particular field who do not join a party.

      In recognition of other faith groups the national leaders of the larger minority faiths have been given life peerages. The Chief Rabi is now virtually a shoe-in and, IIRC, a Muslim leader has also been given one based on his membership of the Muslim Council of Great Britain. There are of course members of other faith groups who are also Lords, both hereditory and life peers (although I am not sure of the current composition as there is a rump of hereditory peers who are elected from all of them who actually sit in the house.) One prominent Muslim peer in these debates was Lord Alli (see ) who is also openly gay.

      Lord Alli was with the Labour peers who co-operated on an all party basis during the Lords passage and spoke movingly of the affect it will have on him personally - he was singled out for praise by both front-benches.

      The civil part of marriages in the UK occur when both partners and witnesses sign a marriage licence in the presence of either a local authority appointed Registrar or the celebrant in faith weddings (hence the inclusion of Reform Synagogues in the list of those who may conduct same-sex marriages). The amendments in the Lords strengthened the safequards for those who object to conducting ceremonies on religious grounds although this does apply to local authority Registrars (of Births, Deaths and Marriages). The logic for this is that that as public servants they have been employed to carry out a range of civic functions which these marriages will be part of.  

      BTW, Humanists are not considered a "faith group" for the purposes of solomnizing marriages and one of the ammendments called for a further report on extending the ability to act as Registrars to celebrants of Humanist weddings.

      We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 04:27:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And it's DONE (0+ / 0-)

    From Europe's Pink News.

    The equal marriage bill for England and Wales has once again been passed in the House of Commons, and will soon will be given Royal Assent to become law.

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