An historic House of Commons vote on 5th February has paved the path for legalising same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom, marking a milestone for gay rights. If this first vote amongst several is followed by continued support, gay marriage might be legal as early as 2015.
The proposed bill’s enactment year coincides with the next election. And, although the results of the initial gay marriage vote are also a victory for its chief political champion Prime Minister David Cameron, they may have put pressure on the Tory reformer. The nether house of Parliament supported the legislation by a majority of 400 to 175. However, with over half of 303 Tory lawmakers demonstrating their opposition to it, the party has essentially been split in two.
Mr. Cameron has contested a largely uphill tussle to gain the support of the more right-leaning members of his party. The bill counts among its high profile Tory supporters London Mayor Boris Johnson, former PM Sir John Major and cabinet ministers Patrick McLoughlin and Michael Gove.
If the bill becomes law, it actually relinquishes requirement of religious institutions to conduct gay marriages. Although critics have marginalised its relevance, claiming that it comes at a time when most Britons might be more concerned with the economic climate of the country, the same-sex marriage bill seems to play an important role in Mr. Cameron’s Tory reformist political agenda and the 21st century re-branding of his party.
A recent poll by market research company Ipsos MORI showed that nearly 75 percent of British adults believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry; 45 percent agree with government proposals to legalise gay marriage without forcing religious organisations to do so. It remains to be seen whether gay marriage may figure in the 2015 election campaign.