England and Wales are now among the small number of countries in which gay marriage is not only recognized but legal.
Today was a huge landmark in both gay rights and Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. The Queen signed a bill that officially makes gay marriage legal in England and Wales.
“This is a historic moment that will resonate in many people’s lives,” said Culture Minister Maria Miller. “I am proud that we have made it happen, and I look forward to the first same sex wedding by next summer.”
Though legal, it will still take approximately a year before the first same-sex marriage can be performed. The process of transforming an entire legal system—pensions, applications, computer systems—is not a fast one, but by doing it thoroughly, it helps ensure that all matters related to same-sex couples are amended to reflect the new law.
The Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties have been supporting this bill, despite resistance from the Conservative Party. It was Prime Minister David Cameron, a member of the Conservative Party, who introduced the bill, though, showing that support was spreading.
Last night, the Parliament’s lower House of Commons gave the Prime Minister’s bill its seal of approval so that it could be presented to Queen Elizabeth II today. The Roman Catholic Church has described this as a “watershed” in the country’s history, one which marks “profound social change,” and one that is possibly the most socially radical in the Queen’s entire reign.
The law, though a huge step, still allows religious organizations to refuse to marry same-sex couples without legal repercussion. Despite this, much of the country is celebrating today.
Labour lawmaker Chris Bryant tweeted: “The Queen has given Royal Assent to Same Sex Marriage. Aggressive homosexuals, please note. Go forth and propose.”
Photo: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP