Main | Tuesday, February 05, 2013

What's Next For Britain's Marriage Bill

Over on AmericaBLOG, John Aravosis quotes a British source on how bills proceed to law in Parliament.  British commenters here on JMG have been weighing in with similar information, but I figure we Yanks could all use the lesson.
Before becoming a law, a bill goes thru these stages:

1st reading – effectively announcing that the bill has been published.

2nd reading – at which a substantive debate takes place on the principles underpinning the proposed law; a yes vote at this stage typically means that the bill will become law in a form somewhat close to the draft. [JMG: Today was the second reading.]

Committee Stage – a small committee of members of Parliament reviews the law, makes amendments; typically this is where bad drafting is fixed but also where lobbying really makes a difference.

Lords stage – the House of Lords votes on the Bill and sometimes has its own committees. If they vote no, the Bill goes back to the Commons. The Commons can insist on their own version and overrule the Lords but it’s a big pain to do it.

3rd Reading – once the Lords’ have passed the bill, the Commons votes one last time on the final amended version.

The shorter answer to your Q is that there is 98% chance of marriage equality happening – what is left to be argued over is how the law is implemented, how religious institutions are affected, tidying up how divorce law impacts gay married couples, etc. There will be a small number of attempts to amend the law, but on the whole this vote means the big fight is won.

I am totally guessing, but I’d say this will be law in late-September.
We're also told that the House Of Commons can automatically override the House Of Lords if they have not acted on a bill in one year, meaning that in the worse case scenario, Britain will see marriage equality in 2014. Is all this correct?

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