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MPs vote for gay marriage
7:19pm Tuesday 5th February 2013 in News
MPs have tonight voted to allow gay people to marry.
The Government's bill to legalise same-sex marriage was backed by 400 votes to 175 - with four Oxfordshire MPs voting for, one against and one abstaining.
Sir Tony Baldry, who spoke against the bill during the debate, was the MP who voted against, while Tory colleague Nicola Blackwood abstained.
Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron made a last-minute televised statement recorded in 10 Downing Street less than two hours before MPs voted.
With dozens of Conservative MPs expected to oppose the measure in a free vote, Mr Cameron had to face some criticism for keeping a low profile on the issue.
But he insisted he had always been "vocal" in his support for the move.
"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," he said.
"This is, yes, about equality. But it is also about making our society stronger.
"I know there are strong views on both sides of the argument - I accept that. But I think this is an important step forward for our country."
Mr Cameron was speaking as a stormy debate on the second reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill drew to its conclusion in the House of Commons.
Introducing the Bill, Culture Secretary Maria Miller insisted that it would make Britain "a fairer place to live".
But she faced opposition from numerous Tory MPs, including the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Graham Brady, who said he had "serious misgivings" over ministers' assurances that religious freedom will not be compromised.
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