Britain opens door to gay marriage and heterosexual civil unions
FROM THE MAIL ONLINE. Gay marriage moved a step closer in Britain yesterday as Liberal Democrats backed a law change that would give equal rights to same-sex couples.
In addition, the party ruled heterosexual couples should be allowed to undertake civil partnerships, which are currently reserved for gay couples.
Delegates at its annual conference in Liverpool voted overwhelmingly in favour of the switch despite warnings that the drive for full equality could cost taxpayers up to £5billion over the next ten years.
Like marriage, civil partnerships confer extra tax and pension rights to couples. Although there is little legal difference between the two ceremonies, many believe the symbolism is important.
Lib Dem equalities minister Lynne Featherstone said she was 'very proud' of her party for backing the move, and indicated she would now press for the change within Government.
The vote will increase tensions within the Coalition, as many Tory traditionalists are instinctively wary of the idea of gay marriage. Prime Minister David Cameron has previously warned of the need for caution in considering the move.
Churches and other religious institutions would not be forced to conduct ceremonies for gay couples, although some critics fear this could eventually happen.