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U.K. gay marriage bill passes key hurdle

AFP-JIJI

A bill to legalize gay marriage in Britain passed a crucial hurdle in Parliament on Tuesday, despite efforts by lawmakers from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party to wreck the plans.

Members of the House of Commons voted 366-161 in favor of the same-sex marriage bill, a majority of 205, and it will now go to the unelected House of Lords for consideration.

The vote followed a marathon debate Monday in which Cameron was forced to make a deal with the opposition Labour Party to defeat a bid by his own rebellious Conservative lawmakers to scupper the bill.

Rightwing Tories had proposed an amendment to allow heterosexual couples to form civil partnerships, which was condemned by Cameron’s office as a “wrecking amendment” that would have delayed the introduction of the new law.

Some 54 percent of Britons are in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry, according to a YouGov poll for the Sunday Times.

But lawmakers are sharply divided, and Conservative former minister Norman Tebbit stoked the row on Tuesday by claiming gay marriage could result in a lesbian queen giving birth to an heir by artificial insemination.

“When we have a queen who is a lesbian and she marries another lady and then decides she would like to have a child and someone donates sperm and she gives birth to a child, is that child heir to the throne?” he said.