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Gay marriage bill: Lords to debate ‘wrecking amendment’

A “wrecking amendment” which seeks to derail the gay marriage bill will be debated in the House of Lords later.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales would allow couples, who can currently form civil partnerships, to marry. Religious organisations would have to “opt in” to offering weddings, with the Church of England and Church in Wales being banned in law from doing so.

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Ministers believe that allowing same-sex couples to marry will strengthen marriage as an institution.

Last week, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey warned same-sex marriage would set a “dangerous precedent” which could lead to sibling marriage or polygamy. In an article for think tank Civitas, he said did not want to be “alarmist”, but said it could logically be extended to “say, two sisters bringing up children together” or “multiple relationships, such as two women and one man”.

“Ultimately, the proposed legalisation of same-sex marriage represents a paradigm shift in our understanding of marriage,” he said.

Mr Cameron hopes the bill will become law soon and that the first ceremonies can take place by next summer.

The Scottish government has confirmed it will introduce a bill shortly to allow same-sex marriage.

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Splits expected as MPs prepare to debate gay marriage

Splits expected as MPs prepare to debate gay marriage;

Plans to legalise same-sex marriage in England and Wales return to the Commons later, amid continuing opposition from some Conservative activists and MPs.

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The Marriage Bill was approved by a 225-vote majority when it was last debated by MPs in February, but nearly half of all Tories voted against it and many party activists remain deeply opposed to it in principle. Some critics have tabled an amendment saying heterosexual couples should be able to have civil partnerships.

But ministers call this a “complicated distraction” which may delay the bill.

David Cameron has said the bill would help build a stronger and fairer society, and the bill also has the backing of the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour Leader Ed Miliband.

Far from being a wrecking measure, some of the strongest support for my amendment to extend civil partnerships comes from the biggest supporters of same-sex marriage in the Labour and Lib Dem parties” – Tim Loughton MP

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