British political party Labour has announced they have abandoned support for a ‘wrecking’ amendment supporting opposite-sex civil partnerships today (20 May).
Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary and the Shadow Equalities Minister, has announced Labour will table its own amendment.
As outlined on The World At One, she explained the amendment would establish ‘an immediate consultation on opposite-sex civil partnerships’, which, she said, could begin even before the bill has completed its parliamentary pasage.
She said: ‘We’ve put forward to have an immediate consultation on opposite-sex civil partnerships, we can start that right away and you don’t even need to wait for the bill to go through.
‘It would allow us to challenge some of the government’s facts and figures, which we do think are not very credible around the cost and the delay.
‘We don’t see why it would cost £4 billion, that feels like a figure that’s been plucked out of the air.
‘It would also allow the bill to keep making progress, and to prevent either the government or some of the Tory backbenchers using this as an excuse to wreck the bill or to delay the bill.
‘We don’t want anyone to use this an excuse to wreck the bill – including the government.’
Cooper continued to say, while it is a free vote, she was recommending MPs not support the amendment by former Tory minister Tim Loughton.
Loughton’s amendment is being widely viewed as an attempt to ‘wreck’ the bill, and could delay it by up to two years.
‘Far from being a wrecking ball, some of the strongest support for my amendment to extend civil partnerships comes from the biggest supporters of same-sex marriage in the Labour and Lib Dem parties,’ he said.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will be debated in the House of Commons today and tomorrow.
In Northern Ireland there are currently no plans for similar legislation, but plans are being made for same-sex marriage in Scotland.
UPDATE: Labour appears to be keeping an open threat on the Loughton amendment, meaning they could vote for or abstain, if the government does not support their rival amendment. This means the government plans could still be in trouble.
From Sky News’ Joey Jones, he said:
labour seem to be offering govt invidious choice: 1) climb down and accept labour amendment or 2) face defeat on loughton amendment.
— Joey Jones (@joeyjonessky) May 20, 2013
Speaking to Gay Star News, Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said: ‘Millions of people, gay and straight, will be looking to their Members of Parliament to stand up for equality in the next couple of days.
‘We’re hopeful that MPs won’t be distracted by today’s wrecking amendments, and will keep equal marriage on track – but even if they do there’s still a tough fight ahead in the House of Lords.
‘Stonewall’s campaign for equal marriage will continue 24/7 until the moment the Bill is signed into law.’