May 21, 2013 at 2:56 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
U.K. House of Commons approves marriage bill
Great Britain, England, British House of Parliament, House of Commons, House of Lords, Big Ben, gay news, Washington Blade

A same-sex marriage bill passed a final hurdle in the House of Commons by a vote of 366-161 on Tuesday, and now heads to the House of Lords for final approval. The law puts the United Kingdom on par with Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, and most recently France in extending marriage equally to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. (Photo public domain)

The British House of Commons on Tuesday gave its final approval to a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in England and Wales.

The 366-161 vote capped off two days of debate on the measure that the same chamber overwhelmingly approved in February.

Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Iceland, Spain and Portugal are among the 11 countries in which same-sex couples can legally marry.

Gays and lesbians in neighboring France can begin to legally tie the knot next week after President François Hollande on May 18 signed his country’s same-sex marriage bill into law. Gay couples in Uruguay and New Zealand will also be able to walk down the aisle in August once their same-sex marriage laws take effect.

Brazil’s National Council of Justice on May 14 ruled registrars in the South American country cannot deny marriage licenses to gays and lesbians.

The British House of Lords is expected to consider the same-sex marriage bill next month.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson are among those who support the bill.

‘This evening’s vote shows MPs are on the public’s side, as poll after poll shows a clear majority of people in Britain support equal marriage,” Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the British LGBT advocacy group Stonewall said. “Now that the bill has cleared the Commons without any of the wrecking amendments tabled by opponents, we hope peers will show the same respect to public attitudes.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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