The following analysis by the New York Times seems to indicate that the vote exposed weaknesses in the Prime Minster’s position. I do not understand British politics enough to know if this is true.
What I do know is that this law is a change of huge magnitude which will have reverberations throughout British society. The destruction of marriage as the core institution entrusted with the birth and rearing of children is no small thing. It is also not the result of gay marriage.
Rather, gay marriage is the result of the decades-long destruction of the family that people in the West have wreaked on themselves. Gay marriage may be a huge blow — I would say the final blow, but I think there will be other deconstructions of marriage to follow this — but it is not the primary cause of the destruction of the family.
As I said in an earlier post, Marriage is a Mess and Homosexuals Didn’t Do It.
The New York Times article describing the vote reads in part:
LONDON — The House of Commons voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Britain, indicating that the bill is assured of passage as it moves through further legislative stages.
But in a major setback for Prime Minister David Cameron, who championed the measure, it appeared that more than half of the lawmakers in his Conservative Party voted against it or abstained.
After a six-hour debate, the Commons vote was 400 to 175 for the bill. The legislation, which applies to England and Wales, would permit civil marriage between same-sex couples, but specifically exempt the Church of England and other faiths from an obligation to perform such ceremonies. Some faith groups, including the Quakers, have said they want the legal right to perform same-sex marriages.
The bill still has to pass in the House of Lords, where delaying tactics by opponents are possible, but Mr. Cameron has said he plans to have it enacted into law sometime this summer.
Although 127 of the 303 Conservative lawmakers voted for the bill, 136 voted against, with 5 abstentions and 35 who registered no vote at all. Those voting against included two cabinet ministers, eight junior ministers and eight whips. The opening to the revolt came when party leaders decided to make the issue a so-called free vote, allowing lawmakers to break with their party without fear of disciplinary action.(Read more here.)