We’re very happy to report that the marriage bill for England and Wales, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, was passed yesterday afternoon by the House of Lords, without a vote. It had already been passed by the Commons.
Many congratulations to everyone who campaigned so hard for this bill!
Also yesterday, the Lords agreed an amendment, to set up a review of the remaining discrimination in occupational pension benefits between same-sex and mixed-sex couples, to report by next summer. That review will cover Scotland as well as England and Wales, because pension regulation is reserved to Westminster.
The bill goes back to the Commons at 7pm this evening, for MPs to consider whether they agree with the Lords’ amendments. We expect MPs will agree, and if so, that means the bill is passed!
It will then go for royal assent, and become the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.
The Act is likely to come into effect during the first half of 2014.
The bill was amended in a number of ways as it went through the Commons and Lords – mostly improvements. It is not perfect, and there are some very significant unaddressed trans issues, but it is a huge step forward for equality.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee has invited written evidence on the Scottish bill, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill. This committee evidence-taking stage is a requirement of the Scottish Parliament process. You can find their call for evidence here.
The deadline for submitting evidence is 23rd August. We will shortly be publishing some material that may be of help when submitting evidence to the Committee, and we’ll keep you updated about it.
In September, the Committee will hear oral evidence, and (around the end of October) will publish a report on the bill. The first vote in the Scottish Parliament is likely to be in November. The bill will then return to the Committee for amendments to be debated, and will then go back to the whole Parliament for a final day of debate, which should be early next year.
Although the England and Wales bill passed with big majorities, we can’t take anything for granted here, and the campaign in Scotland needs to continue until our bill is passed too!