Gay marriage is officially legal in England after Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal stamp of approval on Wednesday. The House of Commons Speaker John Bercow announced to lawmakers that gay marriage was officially allowed.
The bill to legalize same-sex marriage was passed by Parliament earlier this week. The Queen’s approval on Wednesday was a formality and a move that she hinted earlier she would do.
The first gay and lesbian wedding ceremonies will be allowed in England and Wales by next summer. The terms of the same-sex marriage bill says that religious organizations will have to “opt in” to offering weddings, reports the BBC. However, the Church of England and Church of Wales are banned from doing so.
CNN notes that gay couples who have already entered into a civil partnership will be able to convert their relationship’s designation into a marriage.
But the law will not be implemented immediately, because government departments will need to make changes to their operation first. Among those changes are new processes for registrars and new forms for same-sex marriage. The government will announce a more formal timetable for implementation in the coming months.
England’s gay marriage law was backed by Prime Minister David Cameron, though his commitment to see it through put him at odds with his Conservative Party. The Catholic Church in England and Wales opposed the bill, along with the Church of England and other religious groups.
The Catholic Church released a statement about the same-sex marriage law, calling its passage “a watershed in English law and heralds a profound social change.” The statement added:
“With this new legislation, marriage has now become an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, are no longer central. That is why we were opposed to this legislation on principle.”
Are you glad to see gay marriage become legal in England?
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