Despite objections by the newly-installed Archbishop of Canterbury, the United Kingdom's House of Commons has voted to approve marriage equality. The bill, introduced by Prime Minister David Cameron, passed by a vote of 400 to just 175. Members of both the Labor and Liberal Democrat parties broadly supported the bill, along with about half of the House's Conservative MPs. Gay and lesbian couples in the UK now must wait for the bill to pass in the House of Lords if it is to become law. If passed, the bill would become law in 2015 and would allow gay and lesbian couples access to both civil and religious marriages in England and Wales. Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, is also planning to introduce a marriage equality bill over the objections of some clergy within the Church of Scotland.
The Rt Rev Justin Welby, who began his tenure as the Archbishop of Canterbury on Monday, immediately reiterated his opposition to marriage equality in the UK. The Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Rev Peter Smith, urged his parishioners to pray for the defeat of the bill. Rev Smith is the second most senior Roman Catholic cleric in England and Wales. The bill contains provisions allowing religious organizations to opt out of performing marriages for gay and lesbian couples.
Canada legalized marriage equality in 2005. Now that the United Kingdom is moving closer to doing the same, some Australians feel that they are lagging behind other Commonwealth Realms in terms of equality. A marriage equality bill in Australia was defeated in September 2012, but in the wake of the bill passing the UK House of Commons, several supporters in Australia's Parliament have vowed to make marriage equality a priority.