LONDON, July 16 (Reuters) - Gay marriage is to become legal in England and Wales after the lower house of the British parliament approved the final changes on Tuesday to a law that had Prime Minister David Cameron’s backing but split his ruling Conservative party. The law had the support of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats, Britain’s two other main political parties, but damaged Cameron’s standing within his own party with many of his own lawmakers criticising him for being too liberal. His own MPs had previously twice voted against it. After a two-hour debate, the House of Commons passed the bill, meaning it now only needs to be approved by Queen Elizabeth, a formality. “The title of this bill might be ‘Marriage’, but its fabric is about freedom and respect,” said Culture Secretary Maria Miller, adding that traditionalists should not feel their concept of marriage had been undermined. “Freedom to marry regardless of sexuality or gender, but also freedom to believe that marriage should be of one man and one woman, and not be marginalised,” she said. The prime minister personally endorsed the bill to try to show his party was progressive, but that upset some Conservatives who said their Christian beliefs led them to oppose marriage other than between a man and a woman. Gay couples may already obtain “civil partnerships”, conferring the same legal rights as marriage, but campaigners say the distinction gives the impression that society considers gay relationships inferior. (Reporting by William James; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Robin Pomeroy)
The question of marriage equality is a great American debate. Many people, some with strong religious faith, believe that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. Other people, many of whom also have strong religious faith, believe that our country should not limit the commitment of marriage to some, but rather all Americans, gay and straight should be allowed to fully participate in the most basic of family values.
I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love. While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry.
My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my gay and lesbian friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.
Good people disagree with me. On the other hand, my children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children.