Key British and French houses approve the freedom to marry for same-sex couples

In the past few days, the freedom to marry has taken major steps abroad, with lawmakers in France and the United Kingdom casting key votes in favor of ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. 

Today, the British House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in favor of extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in England and Wales. After a full day of debate on The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, the House of Commons approved the bill by a vote of 400-175. The bill is poised for victory in the British House of Lords, and Prime Minister David Cameron has voiced his whole-hearted support for marriage consistently over the past year. 

The CBC explained today:

The bill would allow same-sex couples to get married in a town hall or a church, but would exclude clergy in the Church of England - the country's official faith - from having to carry out the ceremonies. The bill allows for other religious groups that wish to conduct same-sex ceremonies - such as Quakers and liberal Jews - to do so if their governing bodies approve. 

Ben Summerskill, the Chief Executive of Stonewall, one of the leading organizations working toward the freedom to marry in the United Kingdom, applauded the Parliament's vote. He said:

As the last piece of the legislative jigsaw providing equality for gay people in Britain, this is a truly historic step forward. We're absolutely delighted that MPs have demonstrated so overwhelmingly that they're in touch with the twenty-first century. 

On Saturday, the French National Assembly also advanced a key article that would extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in France. By another overwhelming vote of 249-97, the Parliament members advanced an article of a bill that would expand marriage to "two people" rather than a man and a woman. The bill is scheduled for another vote on February 12, but Saturday's vote was a major step forward for the campaign to win marriage in France.  

Our founder and president Evan Wolfson applauded the steps forward today in a release. He said: 

With France, England and Wales poised to become the next countries to embrace the freedom to marry, it's clear that the momentum we see here in the United States for ending marriage discrimination is, in fact, a global movement toward greater freedom and equality for all - and the U.S. should be leading, not lagging. America cannot afford to fall behind its closest allies and trade partners in this global economy, and needs to do right by its families, as a right-of-center British prime minister and left-of-center French president have called on their parliaments to do, with resounding success. 

Read more about the freedom to marry internationally HERE.