January 17, 2013
By Jacob Combs
Proposed legislation to grant same-sex couples equal marriage rights in England and Wales has the support of 330 members of parliament (MPs), according to the London-based website Gay Star News.
The Coalition for Equal Marriage, a UK Marriage equality organization, based the number on a survey of MPs it conducted that looked at public statements of opinion on the bill and letters to constituents.
The Coalition survey also found that there are 126 MPs publicly opposed to the marriage equality bill. The significance of the 330 number, however, is that it provides equal marriage advocates with a winning majority–albeit a slight one–in the parliament, which has 650 members. Even if all of the MPs who have not declared a public position on the bill were to oppose it, the measure would still pass with the 330 members who are currently in favor of it.
As Gay Star News notes, the leaders of all three of the U.K.’s major political parties support the freedom to marry. The British public as a whole is also largely supportive: a poll released by the Guardian in December found 62 percent of respondents favored marriage equality, with 31 percent opposed. Perhaps the most striking data point in the Guardian poll was the marked shift in support over the course of 2012: last March, a similar poll found only 45 percent support for the government’s equal marriage plans (and 36 percent opposition).
Just this week, more than 1,000 Catholic priests in England signed a letter opposing the marriage equality legislation, saying that it could lead to “centuries of persecution” for their faithful. “Legislation for same sex marriage, should it be enacted,” the letter read, “will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship.”
Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative party are expected to introduce marriage equality legislation by the summer. Equal marriage legislation is also on its way in Scotland, where a draft bill was introduced last month which enjoys support from more than two-thirds of the Scottish Parliament