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British lawmakers in the House of Commons voted to overwhelmingly approve a same-sex marriage bill. The vote was 400 to 175.
The bill was championed by Prime Minister David Cameron, but most of the members of his own party, the right-leaning Tories, rejected the bill, notes The Telegraph. Joining the opposition to the bill were several ministers, including two members of the Cabinet. Some accused Cameron of splitting the party by supporting a measure that some opposed.
“This is a very serious and a very sensitive issue and is causing deep divisions in the Conservative Party,” Sir Gerald Howarth said during the debates. “There is no mandate for it.”
“Marriage is the union between a man and a woman, has been historically, remains so,” conservative Roger Gale argued. “It is Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian almost, for any government of any political persuasion to seek to come along and try to re-write the lexicon.”
According to The Associated Press, the bill will be subject to more parliamentary debates in the House of Lords before becoming law. If it passes, same-sex marriage - both civil and religious ceremonies - will be legal in 2015.
Cameron didn’t attend today’s debates, but he called the bill’s support “an important step forward” for the country.
“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,” he added. “This is, yes, about equality. But it is also about making our society stronger.”
As The New York Times notes, gay marriage is currently being debated in France, where President François Hollande is supporting a bill. After two weeks, the issue is still being debated and it has sparked riots in Paris.
Gay marriage is currently legal in nine states and the District of Columbia in the U.S.