The 'wrecking motion' was introduced by Conservative peer Baroness
O'Cathain. It would have meant that the 'Alli amendment' that
Stonewall secured to the 2010 Equality Act last spring would have
However, significant demonstrations of support for Stonewall's
position from across the House meant that Baroness O'Cathain
withdrew her motion moments before a vote was due to be
Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive, said: "Christmas has
come early for equality. We're delighted that a campaign of
misinformation surrounding this issue has today been seen off by
the House of Lords. Although only a small number of devout lesbian
and gay people will benefit, at Stonewall we will always stand up
for minority groups - whether of faith or anything else - within
our community. This was an important issue of religious
"Today's debate reminds us that there are still vocal opponents of
equality for the 3.7 million people in this country who happen to
be gay. We trust that Baroness O'Cathain and her supporters will
now have a little more free time during which to celebrate the
second most important festival in the Christian calendar."
The 'Alli amendment', section 202 of the new Equality Act, is
Contrary to claims made by opponents of equality during today's
debate, it will only apply to denominations such as the Quakers,
the Unitarians and Liberal Judaism which have chosen to host civil
The first ceremonies are expected to take place early in the new
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister, Lynne
"A number of faiths have made it very clear to me and others that
they want to allow same-sex couples to have their civil partnership
ceremony in their places of worships.
"As a Liberal Democrat, I strongly believe that we should make
this possible and that is why the Coalition Government is doing the
right thing in allowing these faiths to celebrate the love that two
people have for each other.
"From the outset, we made it clear that we would not force any
faith to do so and the House of Lords have today recognised that
there are appropriate safeguards.
"I look forward to working equally constructively with all
interested people and organisations as we move ahead with the
Coalition Government's plan to open up marriage to same-sex
couples. Our commitment to equality runs deep, as next year's
consultation on equal marriage will show."