The same-sex marriage Bill passed its first hurdle in the Lords last night by 390 votes to 148, but opponents have vowed “it’s not over yet”.
There will be other votes in the Lords in coming weeks where Peers have the opportunity to pass key amendments, or vote against the whole Bill.
Colin Hart, campaign director for the Coalition for Marriage, said: “The House of Lords has decided to allow the same-sex marriage Bill to progress to the next stage.
“But many Peers said they were doing so because they wanted to take a closer look at the Bill before deciding whether to vote against it at a later stage. The Bill must overcome other votes in the Lords, so it’s not over yet.
“We believed we could have won a vote if it was held on Monday night as originally planned, but at the last minute the Government rescheduled the vote for Tuesday evening.
“It was an underhand procedural tactic, and they were able to get 390 votes after switching the dates. Without the switch, the Government and the Labour leadership were genuinely worried they would have lost.
“Last night, 148 Peers voted with Lord Dear against the Bill. That number is likely to grow for key amendments at later stages. That’s why we won’t give up defending the real meaning of marriage. It’s not over yet.”
Lord Dear led opposition to the Bill in the Lords. He said the legislation would “completely alter the concept of marriage as we know it”.
He said the bill was “ill-thought through”, had no democratic legitimacy and was “fatally flawed”.
Government minister Baroness Warsi refused to back the Bill saying she had misgivings about its impact on faith groups.
Meanwhile, a survey by ITV News shows that three quarters of local Conservative associations have lost members, and over half of them say it is because of gay marriage.