By Anna Peirano
British parliament passed the bill legalizing same-sex marriage on Tuesday with a vote of 400 to 175. The legislation will now go to a committee for detailed examination next week, and then to the House of Commons.
It is expected to pass without issue due to strong support from Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, despite division within the Conservative party.
The legislation has been a key component of Prime Minister David Cameron's platform.
The bill enables same-sex couples to marry in both civil and religious ceremonies, if the religious institution consents. The Church of England, the country's official faith, cannot participate unless it changes its laws. It will also allow couples previously in civil partnerships to convert their status to a marriage.
"I am a strong believer in marriage," said Cameron in a statement. It helps people commit to each other and I think it is right that gay people should be able to get married too. This is, yes, about equality. But it is also about making our society stronger."
“Every marriage is different,” said Culture Secretary Maria Miller when introducing the second reading of the bill. “The depth of feeling, love and commitment is no different between same-sex couples. Marriage should be defended and promoted.”