Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill passes Third Reading. First same-sex marriages expected next spring.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual couples in England and Wales will be able to marry next spring, after the House of Lords yesterday gave Third Reading to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. Subject to consideration of amendments in the House of Commons – a technicality, as the Bill made it through the Lords without any material amendments – the Bill will now receive Royal Assent and become law.

Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said:

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‘It’s impossible to express how much joy this historic step will bring to tens of thousands of gay people and their families and friends. The Bill’s progress through Parliament shows that, at last, the majority of politicians in both Houses understand the public’s support for equality – though it’s also reminded us that gay people still have powerful opponents.

‘Stonewall’s volunteers, supporters and staff have worked flat-out for equal marriage in England and Wales, and Stonewall Scotland’s campaign continues north of the Border. We’ll redouble our efforts in Scotland so that every single gay person in Britain will soon enjoy full equality.’

During the Bill’s progress through Parliament, Stonewall staff and volunteers produced thousands of personalised briefings and speaking notes for MPs and peers. The charity gave evidence to the Bill Committee in the House of Commons and has attended and lobbied at every stage of the Bill’s progress.