Gay marriage will soon be legal in England after the House of Commons and House of Lords both approved a bill to legalize it. The first same-sex weddings will take place later this summer.
While the bill still needs to be signed by Queen Elizabeth II, she is expected to do so later this week. After that, gay couples will be able to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies.
The gay marriage bill had Prime Minister David Cameron’s backing. However, it split his Conservative party. It also had the support of both Labor and the Liberal Democrats, the country’s other two main political parties. However, backing the bill hurt Cameron’s standing in his party, with many of his own lawmakers criticizing him as being too liberal.
After the bill was passed, Reuters reports that Culture Secretary Maria Miller stated:
“The title of this bill might be ‘Marriage,’ but its fabric is about freedom and respect. Freedom to marry regardless of sexuality or gender, but also freedom to believe that marriage should be of one man and one woman, and not be marginalized.”
Gay couples in England can already obtain a “civil partnership,” which gives the same rights as marriage. However, campaigners for the same-sex marriage bill stated that the distinction gives the impression that gay relationships are inferior to straight. Those who have a civil partnership will be able to convert it to a marriage once the bill is finalized, notes USA Today.
Prime Minister Cameron personally endorsed the gay marriage bill in an attempt to show that his party is progressive. However, his move upset some Conservatives who explained that their Christian beliefs made it impossible to approve of a marriage that isn’t between a man and a woman.
Were you surprised to hear that England will legalize gay marriage once Queen Elizabeth II signs the law?
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