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British P.M. Cameron gets an assist from Labor on gay marriage

May 21, 2013 at 12:43 AM

LONDON, May 21 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron Monday was able to sidestep a Conservative revolt on gay marriage with help from Labor Party leader Ed Miliband.

Miliband agreed to have Labor members of Parliament vote against an amendment that would have extended civil unions to heterosexual couples, The Guardian reported. The amendment, backed by opponents of gay marriage, would have reduced the bill's chance of parliamentary approval, and Miliband had been planning to abstain.

Cameron has also been trying to damp down a story that Conservative co-chairman Andrew Feldman, who sits in the House of Lords as Baron Feldman of Elstree, dismissed Conservatives opposed to gay marriage as "mad, swivel-eyed loons." Feldman denies saying that.

"I am proud to lead this party. I am proud of what you do. And I would never have around me those who sneered or thought otherwise," Cameron said in an email to party members. "We are a team, from the parish council to the local association to parliament, and I never forget it."

In another embarrassment Monday for Cameron, about 100 Conservative MPs, including two members of his Cabinet, supported an unsuccessful amendment that would have allowed registrars to opt out of performing same-sex weddings.

Cameron is also dealing with deep divisions in the Conservative Party on British membership in the European Union.

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