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Gay marriage: ban on same sex church weddings may not be legally watertight – research

By Rowena Mason, Telegraph

The Church of England may not be safe from court challenges forcing it to conduct gay marriage as there is "no unanimous" legal opinion on the issue, a research briefing for MPs says.

Ahead of today's crucial vote in Parliament, MPs have been advised that lawyers are conflicted over whether the Government's ban on same-sex weddings in church is legally watertight.

The Government insists that it has a multiple "lock" stopping same-sex weddings in Church but House of Commons research quotes legal arguments for and against a successful legal challenge.

"The view of the legal profession is not unanimous," the research says, as some lawyers believe the new laws will make it illegal to discriminate against same-sex couples. Other QCs argue that religious groups have special protection under human rights laws.

MPs will this evening have a free vote on whether to support David Cameron's plans to bring in gay marriage, after debating all afternoon. The Prime Minister is expected to win the vote with the help of the Lib Dems and Labour, but the issue has split his party.

Three senior ministers – George Osborne, Theresa May and William Hague – last night launched a last-minute attempt to persuade waverers to support the plans in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.

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