By Sallie Gregson
The same-sex marriage bill will return to the House of Commons later today for a third and final reading.
A proposal to allow heterosexual couples to have civil partnerships, which would have delayed the bill, was yesterday defeated by 350 votes to 70.
Stuart Andrew, Conservative MP for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough, said: “I strongly believe that it cannot be right to exclude a group of people from an institution such as marriage based solely on their sexuality, in the same way that it is not right to discriminate on grounds of gender, race or otherwise.”
After last night’s vote, a review of civil partnerships will instead take place in the next few months and the conclusions will impact on the final bill.
If the bill is approved today, it will go to the House of Lords tomorrow, where it is expected to face further opposition.
Same-sex couples could be married as early as summer 2014, if the bill is successful this week.
Leeds man Paul Graystock, 43, who is gay, said: “I do believe it’s a good thing, but David Cameron is just doing this for votes.”
Neil Harris, 62, Christian open-air mission preacher in Leeds, said: “God created marriage between a man and a woman and that’s how it should stay. I don’t believe it’s right.”
The marriage bill was backed by a 225 majority vote in February, with supporters including David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and opposition leader Ed Miliband but nearly half of all Conservative MPs opposed it.
Conservative MP and former minister Tim Loughton, who had tabled the amendment on civil partnerships which could have delayed the bill, said: “If the Government think it is right to extend marriage to everyone then it has to be right to extend civil partnerships to everyone too. This can only be good for improving stability for many more of the near three million opposite sex couples who currently choose to co-habit but are in no formally recognised relationship.”