JOURNAL-lands' trio of Labour MPs were among the 225 strong majority who voted in Parliament on Tuesday in favour of the same sex marriage bill.

Prime Minister David Cameron got his way as gay marriage legislation cleared its first hurdle in the Commons when the House backed the proposals by 400 votes to 175.

The result followed more than six hours of stormy debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

Leigh MP Andy Burnham, Atherton's Bolton West member Julie Hilling and Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue backed the Bill at its second reading.

Mr Burnham explained the reasoning behind his vote: “I appreciate that this issue provokes strong opinions on both sides, and I do believe in the traditional view of marriage, but I also believe in full equality before the law. What matters is the love and commitment that two people share for each other irrespective of sexual orientation.

“For this reason I supported the Bill and am pleased that an overwhelming majority of MPs on all sides of the chamber did so too.”

Mrs Fovargue said: “Couples who want to make a loving long term commitment should be able to get married, whatever their gender or sexuality.

“I was delighted to attend a civil partnership of a friend and his partner soon after this and their love for each other was as valid as anybody else’s. Now they have widespread support and this is the right time to allow same sex couples equal recognition by the state through marriage.

“This Bill provides strong protection for freedom of religion, including safeguards so that no church, faith group or individual minister can be required to conduct a same sex marriage. But it is also right that religious organisations that wish to conduct same sex marriages are allowed to do so."

Ms Hilling said: “This has been a very difficult decision for me, given the strength of feeling on both sides of the argument.

However, after listening to the arguments, It is my belief that people who love each other and want to make a long term commitment to each other should be able to marry, regardless of their gender or their sexuality.

For me, and for the Labour Party, this is an issue of fairness and equality.  I therefore reached the conclusion that gay and lesbian couples should have an equal right to civil marriage and that they deserve the same validation and recognition from the state and from society as anyone else. 

I have spent all of my adult life fighting for equality and against prejudice for all people, irrespective of their gender, race, religion, sexuality, class, age or disability and believe that this decision is in keeping with my long held beliefs.

I haven't taken this decision lightly as I am acutely aware that many people have strong beliefs about the institution of marriage and I have considered their arguments carefully.

I have spoken to religious leaders about this issue and listened to their concerns about how the proposed legislation could affect their institutions.  

I have been reassured that there is a ‘quadruple lock’ enshrined in the Bill which protects religious freedom and ensures that religious institutions and faith leaders will not be forced to marry same-sex couples against their beliefs."