WELSH MPs have helped pave the way for gay marriage after the House of Commons voted to legalise same-sex unions.
Geraint Davies in Swansea West and Sian James in Swansea East both backed the controversial Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which passed its second reading with a majority of 225.
Gower MP Martin Caton, Nia Griffith in Llanelli, Aberavon’s Hywel Francis, Neath MP Peter Hain and Jonathan Edwards in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr also voted “yes”.
However the historic vote exposed deep divisions within the Conservative Party, with 136 Tory MPs, including Welsh Secretary David Jones, defying their party leader to oppose the move.
Speaking during a five-hour debate, Geraint Davies said it was a “fundamental right of all people to have the opportunities and obligations of marriage, irrespective of whether it is between two people of the same sex or different sexes”.
But he warned MPs that because the legislation would not oblige the Church in Wales and Church of England to marry everyone, it would be “open to legal challenge in Strasbourg”.
After the vote on Tuesday evening, Mr Hain tweeted: “Huge victory for #equalmarriage in Commons tonight[;] nice to be on winning side for equal opportunities and human rights.”
If the Bill becomes law, it will enable same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies, although the latter needs the consent of a religious institution.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron said he was proud that love between a same-sex couple would now “count the same” as a heterosexual couple.
He said: “Last night’s vote will be seen not just as making sure there is a proper element of equality, but also helping us to build a stronger and fairer society.
“I thought many of the speeches made last night were very moving, very emotional and I would pay tribute to all those people who have actually made this case, some of them for very many years, saying they want their love to count the same way that a man and a woman’s love for each other counts.
“That is what we have opened now in this country and that is why I’m proud it is this government that has brought it forward.”
MPs were given a free vote on the bill, which means they were not ordered to vote a particular way by party whips.
Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart voted against the Bill’s second reading.