In an historic move, MPS in Parliament’s House of Commons have voted overwhelmingly in favour of legalising same-sex marriage in England and Wales.

Despite a rebellion against Prime Minister David Cameron by Conservative MPs, 400 MPs voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill while 175 voted against it.

Under the legislation, gay and lesbian couples will be legally allowed to marry. However, the bill specifically bars the Church of England and Church in Wales from offering same-sex marriages.

Other religious groups and churches will have the option to chose whether or not to perform or recognise these marriages.

“Today is an important day. I am a strong believer in marriage, it helps people commit to each other, and I think it is right that gay people should be able to get married too,” said Cameron ahead of the vote.

“This is, yes, about equality. But it is also about making our society stronger,” he added.

The vote was welcomed by LGBT rights group Stonewall.  “As the last piece of the legislative jigsaw providing equality for gay people in Britain, this is a truly historic step forward,” said its Chief Executive Ben Summerskill.

“We’re absolutely delighted that MPs have demonstrated so overwhelmingly that they’re in touch with the twenty-first century.”

The bill still has some way to go before it becomes law. It will next go into Commons Committee Stage and is likely to progress to the House of Lords after the Queen’s Speech, expected in early May.

“We anticipate, as always, a tough battle in the House of Lords. Happily, the size of the Commons majority seen tonight – much larger than for most normal Government business – will make it very difficult for peers to suggest that the bill should be rejected,” commented Summerskill.

According to a YouGov poll, 71% of people in Britain support equal marriage. This figure rises to 82% of those under the age of 50.

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