LONDON — The British House of Lords rejected a move to scrap Prime Minister David Cameron’s bill to allow same-sex marriage.
The upper, unelected chamber voted by 390 to 148 in London against a motion to deny the bill a second reading after two days of preliminary debate. The legislation has already been passed by the lower chamber, the House of Commons, amid opposition from more than 100 lawmakers from Cameron’s Conservative Party.
It would have been very unusual for the House of Lords, which focuses on revising legislation, to vote the bill down at this stage. Some opponents of gay marriage abstained on the grounds that they were concerned about the constitutionality of rejecting the bill without first considering it in detail in committee, the next step in the legislative process.
“If this vote defeats the bill, it will probably return next year,” Elizabeth Berridge, a Conservative member of the Lords who opposes the proposal, told the chamber, explaining why she planned to abstain in the vote. “In those circumstances this flawed bill, as it stands now, would become law. Do I want to vote against this bill? Yes. Should I? No.”
The plan to introduce gay marriage has pitted Cameron against many in his own party. Activists say it is driving Conservative voters toward the U.K. Independence Party, which made gains in local elections last month at the expense of the Tories and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners.
The prime minister was only able to get the legislation through the Commons with the support of the opposition Labour Party.
After that vote last month, Cameron used a radio interview to pledge that he would return to a focus on “the big picture” and issues such as the economy and welfare.
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