A bill which seeks to legalize gay marriage in Britain and Wales received an initial nod from the House of Commons on Tuesday.

The bill was approved with a 400 to 175 vote.

More than 70 members of parliament participated in the debate which lasted more than 6 hours.

(Related: British House of Commons debates gay marriage.)

The bill now moves to the committee stage.

The issue divided Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party, with slightly more Conservative MPs voting against the proposal than with it (140 to 132, according to a tweet from BBC political editor Alex Hunt).

MP Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Labour Party, called the vote “an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain.”

“The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs supported this change to make sure marriage reflects the value we place on long-term, loving relationships whoever you love,” he said in a statement.

“Equal marriage builds on Labour's successes in government which include the repeal of Section 28, equalising the age of consent, the introduction of civil partnerships and changes to the rules governing adoption.”