Same Sex Marriage Bill – Report, 1st Day Summary

A summary of the legal issues debated in the House of Lords during the Committee stage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has been posted here.  A copy of the Bill, as amended in Committee is here and the Marshalled List of Amendments to be moved on Report on 8 July, here.  This has subsequently been updated, here, in relation to Amendments to be move on Report on 10July.

Clause 1 : Extension of marriage to same sex couples

Amendment 1, Lord Mackay of Clashfern

The debate on Amendment 1, moved by Lord Mackay of Clashfern, was to introduce in the Bill a recognition of the distinction that exists in fact between marriage for same-sex couples and marriage for opposite-sex couples.  Recognizing the fundamental issues associated with such a distinction is fundamental, their Lordships debate the issues for almost two hours.

Division on Amendment 1

Contents 119; Not-Contents 314.

Amendment 1 disagreed

Amendment 2, Lord Mackay of Clashfern

Lord Mackay gave notice that, following vote on Amendment 1, he would not move a large number of other amendments in his name, [8 July 2013 : Column 38].

Amendment 2

Not moved.

Amendment 3, Baroness Cumberlege

Conscientious objection to same-sex marriage by registrars

Division on Amendment 3

Contents 103; Not-Contents 278.

Amendment 3 disagreed

Amendment 4, Lord Dear

The principle that a belief that marriage is the voluntary union of one man and one woman for life to the exclusion of all others is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society

Amendment 5 (to Amendment 4) withdrawn.

Amendment 6 (to Amendment 4) not moved.

Amendment 4 withdrawn.

Amendment 7, Baroness Meacher

New clause to permit the Secretary of State by regulations to make provision for the Registrar General to approve and permit organisations that are registered charities principally concerned with advancing or practising a non-religious belief to solemnise marriages according to their usages on the authority of a superintendent registrar’s certificate, and for related purposes.

Amendment 7 withdrawn.

Amendment 8

Not moved.

Clause 2: Marriage according to religious rites: no compulsion to solemnize etc

Amendment 9, Lord Wallace of Tankerness

Government Amendments 9 and 10 clarify the meaning of “compelled” in Clause 2, which provides important protections for religious organisations and their representatives from participating in religious solemnisation of marriages of same-sex couples.  These were tabled in response to concerns raised by their Lordships and in the other place that the protection from compulsion set out in Clause 2 may be narrow because the meaning of compulsion is not clear.

Amendment 9 agreed

Amendment 10

See above.

Amendment 10 agreed.

Amendments 11 to 17

Not moved

Amendment 18, Baroness O’Loan

This was designed to provide reassurance to a huge range of churches beyond the established church in England and Wales through the introduction into clause 2 the phrase “For the purposes of section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, no regard may be had by any public authority to the expression by a person of the opinion or belief that marriage is the union of one man with one woman”.

Amendment 18 withdrawn.

Amendments 19 to 23

Not moved

Clause 3 : Marriage for which no opt-in necessary

Amendments 24 to 30

Not moved

Clause 4 : Opt-in: marriage in places of worship

Amendments 31 to 33

Not moved

Schedule 1 : Registration of buildings etc.

Amendments 34 to 36

Not moved.

Amendment 37, Baroness Northover

Amendments 37 and 41 clarify the regulation-making powers in relation to the registration of places of worship for the solemnisation of marriages of same-sex couples and the arrangements for some shared buildings.  Amendment 37 responds to the committee’s recommendation that powers of the Secretary of State in new Section 43D of the Marriage Act 1949—to make regulations about the registration of buildings which are registered as places of worship to solemnise same-sex marriages under the provisions of the Bill—should be subject to the affirmative procedure.

Amendment 37 agreed.

Amendments 38 and 39

These had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.

Amendment 40

Not moved

Amendment 41, Baroness Northover

Amendment 41 responds to the committee’s concerns that the scope of the powers regarding shared buildings which are not shared under the Sharing of Church Buildings Act 1969 appeared to extend beyond religious buildings, and whether this was an appropriate use of the powers. The amendment clarifies the Secretary of State’s powers to make regulations about the registration of registered places of worship not subject to an agreement under the 1969 Act. The amendment makes it clear that the powers apply to buildings which have been registered as places of worship and not to any other buildings.

Amendment 41 agreed

Clause 5 : Opt-in: other religious ceremonies

Amendment 42

Not moved.

Clause 6 : Armed forces chapels

Amendments 43 and 44

Not moved

Clause 7 : Opt-in: “deathbed marriages

Amendment 45

Not moved

Amendment 46, Lord Dear

Seeks to protect the rights to conscientious exclusion for schoolteachers: teachers who have a conscientious objection to same-sex marriage are prevented from endorsing same-sex marriage, just as they are not required to give religious education or attend religious worship.

Amendments 47 and 48, as amendments to Amendment 46, not moved.

Division on Amendment 46

Contents 32; Not-Contents 163.

Amendment 46 disagreed.

Amendment 49, Lord Anderson of Swansea

New clause to insert proposed new into the Employment Rights Act 1996 to prevent employers subjecting their employees to detriment for holding or expressing their belief. It is qualified only in that it protects the expression of belief in traditional marriage, and states that that belief must be expressed in a reasonable manner.

Amendment 49 withdrawn.

Amendment 50

Not moved

Clause 8 : Power to allow for marriage of same sex couples in Church in Wales

Amendments 51 and 52

Not moved.

Amendment 53, Lord Anderson of Swansea

Introduction of provision relating to “reasonable accommodation”, whereby an employer has a duty to take such steps as are reasonably practical to accommodate an employee who has a conscientious belief that marriage is the union of one man to one woman for life to the exclusion of all others.

Amendment 53 withdrawn.

Clause 9 : Conversion of civil partnership into marriage

Amendment 54, Baroness Stowell of Beeston

Leave out “Registrar General” and insert “Secretary of State”

Amendment 54 agreed.

Amendment 55, Lord Elton

This amendment provides that when a civil partnership is converted to a marriage, it would take place under criteria similar to the solemnization of a marriage, i.e. registered building with open doors, two or more witnesses, prescribed wording of a declaration.  However, Baroness Northover pointed out that in the light of the previous amendment, the regulations under Clause 9 would be made by the Secretary of State and that the first such regulations would be subject to the affirmative procedure, and subsequent regulations subject to the negative procedure. Therefore, this will be subject to further debate.

Division on Amendment 55

Contents 15; Not-Contents 84.

Amendment 55 disagreed.

Amendments 56 to 59, Baroness Stowell of Beeston

Various minor amendments.

Amendments 56 to 59 agreed.

Clause 10 : Extra-territorial matters

Amendments 60 to 62

Not moved

Schedule 2 : Extra-territorial matters

Amendments 63 to 68

Not moved.

Clause 11 : Effect of extension of marriage

Amendment 69

Not moved

Amendment 70 Lord Wallace of Tankerness

An amendment is a response to the concerns expressed by Lord Mackay of Clashfern that Clause 11 as drafted is potentially misleading and would benefit from further clarity.  Clause 11(1) provides that marriage, in the law of England and Wales “has the same effect in relation to same sex couples as it has in relation to opposite sex couples”.  Lord Mackay agreed that this is a correct elucidation of the situation.

Amendment 70 agreed

Amendment 71, Lord Armstrong of Ilminster

Amendment 71 is consequential on Amendment 85, due to be debated on Wednesday afternoon.

Amendment 71 not moved, but will be discussed in relation to Amendment 85.  If Amendment 85 fails, Amendment 71 will not be maintained  If Amendment 85 is maintained, an amendment of this kind may be required at Report or on Third Reading.  .

Amendments 72 to 74

Not moved.

Schedule 4: Effect of extension of marriage: further provision

Amendment 75, Baroness Butler-Sloss

This seeks to include adultery as a ground for divorce, by introduction after “that the respondent has committed adultery” of “or a sexual act with a person of the same sex similar to adultery”.

Amendment 75 withdrawn.

Amendments 76 to 83

Not moved

House adjourned at 12.26 am

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