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Britain Legalizes Gay Marriage

Wednesday Jul 17, 2013

Britain on Wednesday legalized gay marriage after Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal stamp of approval, clearing the way for the first same-sex weddings next summer.

Lawmakers cheered as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said royal assent had been given - one day after the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in England and Wales cleared Parliament.

The queen's approval was a formality and is the last step necessary for a bill to become law.

The law enables gay couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies in England and Wales, provided that the religious institution consents. The Church of England, the country's official faith, is barred from performing such ceremonies.

It also will allow couples who had previously entered into civil partnerships - which were introduced in 2005 and carry similar rights and responsibilities to marriage - to convert their relationships to marriage.

The British government introduced the bill in January.

Prime Minister David Cameron had backed it, but it divided his Conservative Party and touched off strident debates in the House of Commons and House of Lords.

Numerous attempts to derail the legislation failed as it wound its way through Parliament, with traditionalists arguing it would undermine the sanctity of marriage.

On Tuesday, Conservative lawmaker Gerald Howarth accused the government of having "bulldozed" the legislation through Parliament, "offending large swatches" of his party.

But in the same debate, shadow women and equalities minister Yvette Cooper said it was the "time to celebrate and not discriminate."

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  • Wayne M., 2013-07-17 11:06:32

    This is wonderful news and marks a great change in conditions for LGBT people compared to the policies of the Thatcher government years ago when her government not only allowed, but actually encouraged discrimination against LGBT people.

  • GAG'EM, 2013-07-18 01:18:03

    She’s the Queen of queens.

  • Ciboney, 2013-07-18 12:40:34

    Not Britain; only Wales and England. Apparently, their "national" system is very strange, compared to most countries. (Northern Ireland and Scotland are part of Great Britain, just in case.)

  • GAG'EM, 2013-07-18 13:39:52

    It’s almost as strange as our system of having 50 states with 50 different sets of laws. BTW Scotland is part of Great Britain; N. Ireland is not. It’s part of the U.K.

  • Ciboney, 2013-07-18 14:09:21

    The United Kingdom of Great Britain is the country. Great Britain is the geographical name of the island where three of the units that make the nation-state are. The news about same-sex marriage erroneously suggest that the United Kingdom of Great Britain became the latest "country" to legalize such unions. Only part of that country did so, like only part of the USA has (such as our great Commonwealth of Massachusetts nine years ago). On the other hand, the Kingdom of Spain or the Kingdom of Sweden have legalized same-sex marriages in the (entire) country.

  • BlondieSL, 2013-07-18 14:34:53

    You forgot to mention the neighbor to the north! Canada, as a country, legalized country-wide Same-Sex Marriage 8 years ago (July 20, 2005). But by 2003, 8 provinces already had legal SS Marriage. My husband and I live in Canada right now and got legally married, will be exactly 5 years ago, TOMORROW! ;) Sorry, but just so damned proud of that. We’re going to Rochester to celebrate with friends. We talk about moving back to California, but it’s so hard to make that decision. Our life is pretty good up here, but we both miss home! ;)

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