Britain has taken its first step towards legalizing gay marriage, according to reports by Euronews and other media outlets. The lower house of Parliament voted in favor of legislation on Tuesday that, if passed, would replace the current civil partnership laws and allow same-sex couples to enjoy the same married status as heterosexual couples.
According to parliamentary procedure, now that the bill has passed a first vote in the House of Commons, it must now go to a Public Bill Committee. As noted by Parliament's official website, the Public Bill Committee must "scrutinize the bill line by line" before it is put before the House of Commons for a second vote.
Here is some of the key information that emerged on Tuesday after the vote on marriage equality in the House of Commons.
* The bill passed the House of Commons with a vote of 400 in favor, 175 against.
* Many of those who voted against the bill were from Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party, which The Telegraph noted was split nearly 50-50 in regards to both opposition and approval.
* Of the 303 Conservative MPs, 139 voted against the bill, and another 30 abstained from registering a vote entirely.
* British parliamentary procedure dictates that the bill go through a second round of voting in the House of Commons. If it survives the second vote in that chamber, it then goes on to the House of Lords.
* Cameron had made an appeal to his fellow Conservatives ahead of Tuesday's vote, calling on them to approve the measure. He referred to the bill as "an important step forward," as quoted by Euronews.
* Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband praised the vote by the House of Commons, with Clegg calling it "a landmark for equality in Britain," and Miliband dubbing Tuesday "a proud day," as quoted by The Telegraph.
* As noted by CNN International, the bill, if passed, would do several things, including legalizing gay marriage. It would also allow couples that currently have legally recognized civil partnerships to convert that partnership to a marriage, as well as allowing transsexual couples to "gain legal recognition in their acquired gender without having to end their marriages."
* In a nod to opposition from some religious institutions, including the Church of England, to gay marriage, such institutions would be allowed to perform same-sex marriages but not required to do so.
* Cameron has backed gay marriage not only as an issue of equality, but because of what he sees as a larger goal of establishing a stronger society. CNN International quoted Cameron as saying that he backs the bill "not only as someone who believes in equality but as someone who believes passionately in marriage."
Vanessa Evans is a musician, traveler and freelance writer with an interest in European studies and events.
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