The House of Commons of the UK Parliament [official websites] voted 366-161 on Tuesday to approve the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill [HC Bill 3]. The legislation was introduced in January [JURIST report] and will effectively extend the application of the Marriage Act of 1949 [materials] to same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples. The bill allows for an exception for any religious institutions that do not wish to perform same-sex weddings. Same-sex couples in England and Wales have been permitted to enter into civil partnerships since 2005 [BBC report], which has allowed them to receive many of the same legal rights as married opposite-sex couples. Prime Minister David Cameron [official website], who also serves as the Leader of the Conservative Party [official website], strongly supports the bill. His support has created tension [JURIST report] within the Conservative Party. The bill will next proceed to the House of Lords [official website] for final approval.
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] continues to be a controversial issue internationally. France legalized [JURIST report] same-sex marriage last week. Earlier this month Brazil effectively legalized [JURIST report] same-sex marriage in a court ruling that prevented notaries from denying to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples. Also this month same-sex marriage legislation was approved in the US states of Minnesota, Delaware and Rhode Island [JURIST reports]. Last month Ireland announced it would hold a referendum [JURIST report] on same-sex marriage. In March, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two same-sex marriage cases regarding the Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 [JURIST reports], with decisions expected next month.