British House of Commons passes Marriage Equality Bill

“Marriage of same sex couples is lawful.”

These are the simple, opening words of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which passed the British House of Commons this evening in a historic vote.

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The bill passed by a margin of 225, with 400 members of Parliament voting in favor and 175 (primarily members of the Conservative party) voting against the measure. The bill will likely move to the House of Lords after the Queen addresses Parliament this spring. From there it could become law.

The strong majority in tonight’s vote will likely increase the chances of the bill being able to get through the House of Lords this year, according to The Guardian.

Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the vote as “an important step forward” despite the opposition of about 140 of his Conservative party colleagues.

Same-sex couples in England and Wales can currently obtain civil partnerships. A process to convert these into marriages is outlined in the bill.

What is the effect on surrogacy?

British intended parents who are pursuing surrogacy typically obtain parental orders to secure their parental rights within 6 months of their child’s birth. Both heterosexual and same-sex couples can be granted parental orders. And since 2010, gay couples have been allowed to apply, even if they are not civil partners, according to the “Guide for Gay Dads” from Stonewall, the British LGBT advocacy group.

Marriage equality isn’t likely to change the way gay British couples secure parental rights following surrogacy arrangements. However, being able to raise a child in a family that is considered the same as those headed by married heterosexual couples will be a huge step forward for LGBT families and for gay rights.

We congratulate all of our British parents and intended parents on this historic advance.

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