Gay marriage opponents: ‘We’re not done yet’

Opponents of gay marriage are convinced they still have a chance of seeing the bill thrown out by the Lords, despite a resounding defeat for a 'fatal motion' last night.

Peers voted by 390 to 148 to reject Lord Dear's wrecking amendment, but campaigners say the discomfort of many lords showed there was still a chance that they might vote down the bill when it returns to the second chamber.

"A significant number of Lords who support same-sex marriage said the bill does not have their unqualified support," Paul Tully, general secretary of Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (Spuc), said.

"Also, some Lords with objections to same-sex marriage did not vote against the bill because of disputed parliamentary conventions restricting voting rights.

"Several Lords were wary of rejecting the bill at second reading because of fears that the government would subject the bill to the Parliament Act – overriding the Lords entirely and forcing the bill through without any scope for amending any aspects of it."

He added: "These factors, plus the large number of Lords who voted against the bill, suggests strongly that the bill could be in trouble in the forthcoming parliamentary stages."

Gay marriage supporters, whose cheers from a street celebration could be heard in the Lords when the result was read out, are confident the bill will now go through without being rejected by peers.

"We always expected a tough challenge in the House of Lords, and Lord Dear's 'fatal motion' – very rarely used – demonstrates the lengths to which a minority of peers are, sadly, still prepared to go to deny full equality to lesbian, gay and bisexual people," said Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill.

"A tough fight lies ahead and we’ll continue to work tirelessly every single day to get equal marriage through the Lords. At Stonewall, we fight to win."

David Cameron will be relieved by yesterday's vote, but the victory also contained causes of concern for No 10.

Downing Street will be unnerved that frontbencher Baroness Warsi abstained while former Tory chairman Lord Mawhinney opposed the bill.