Hull MPs help pave way for gay marriage as bill passes second reading
HULL'S three MPs last night helped pave the way for gay marriage after the House of Commons backed controversial legislation to legalise same-sex unions.
Following a five-hour debate the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill passed its second reading by 400 votes to 175.
Labour MPs Diana Johnson, Karl Turner and Alan Johnson all voted "yes", while 139 Conservative MPs defied their party to vote "no".
East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight and Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis were among the Tory rebels, although Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy supported the legislation.
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Hull North MP Diana Johnson said: "The Bill, backed by MPs across the parties, simply extends the well-established principle of equality before the law to marriage.
"This Bill allows those churches wanting to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies to do so. These proposals do not force anyone to do anything they do not believe in."
Hull East MP Karl Turner said he was "conscious of the sensitivities" surrounding gay marriage but added: "No church will be forced to conduct a ceremony by law. It's an extension of equality of which the Labour Party is proud."
The Bill will enable same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies, assuming a church or religious organisation has given its consent.
It will also allow couples who had previously entered into civil partnerships to convert their relationship into a marriage.
MPs had a free vote on the issue, which meant their parties did not instruct them on how to vote.
The vote came after a concerted push by the Conservative Party to persuade its MPs to back the proposals.
Speaking just before MPs voted, the Prime Minister said same-sex marriage was "an important step forward" and would "make our society stronger".
He added: "I am a strong believer in marriage. It helps people commit to each other and I think it is right that gay people should be able to get married too."
Responding to the vote, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said it was "a landmark for equality in Britain".
He said: "No matter who you are and who you love, we are all equal. Marriage is about love and commitment, and it should no longer be denied to people just because they are gay."
Labour Leader Ed Miliband hailed it as "a proud day and an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain".
He said: "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."
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill still has to pass further Parliamentary hurdles before it is debated by the House of Lords.
Beverley MP Graham Stuart did not vote as he is abroad on business as chairman of the Education Select Committee.