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Popular Topics in Social Sciences
Stonewall Riots Stonewall Riots
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Topics In the News
Queen Elizabeth II Signs Marriage Equality Bill Into Law
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 07/17/13
Last updated on: 07/18/13
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Queen Elizabeth II.

On July 17, 2013, just one day after the House of Commons accepted the amendments proposed by the House of Lords, Queen Elizabeth II has granted royal assent to the legislation, which legalizes same-sex marriage in England and Wales. However, actual marriages under the new law will not be permitted until 2014.

Joe Morgan reports in Gay Star News that when Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow announced that the Queen had signed the bill, cheers broke out in the chamber.

The Queen's signature was the last step in the long battle to get the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill through Parliament, making it no longer a Bill but an Act.

As Morgan reports, "The bill saw angry exchanges in both chambers of parliament but it was passed by landslide votes in the Commons and Lords. It was also backed by the leaders of all three major political parties."

Separate legislation has been presented to the Scottish Parliament to make same-sex marriage equality legal there. Debates are expected to start in October or November.

Because the new law affects other laws, regulations must be promulgated before the Act can be implemented. It is expected that the process will be completed by the summer of 2014 and same-sex couples will then be able to wed both in registry offices and in religious institutions that have decided to "opt-in" to perform same-sex weddings.

Although the new law was supported by the leaders of all three major parties, it remains a particular personal triumph of Prime Minister David Cameron, who bucked the history of the Conservative Party to fulfill promises he made to the glbtq community.

In an op-ed he published in the London Evening Standard on July 18 entitled "Commitment, Responsibility, and Family," the Prime Minister wrote, "I am proud that we have made same-sex marriage happen. I am delighted that the love two people have for each other--and the commitment they want to make--can now be recognised as equal."

He declared, "I have backed this reform because I believe in commitment, responsibility and family. I don't want to see people's love divided by law."

"Making marriage available to everyone says so much about the society that we are and the society that we want to live in--one which respects individuals regardless of their sexuality," he continued, adding "If a group is told again and again that they are less valuable, over time they may start to believe it. In addition to the personal damage that this can cause, it inhibits the potential of a nation. For this reason too, I am pleased that we have had the courage to change."

Crucial to the success of winning marriage equality in England and Wales was the Out4Marriage media campaign that included videos by politicians, celebrities, and citizens. The video below by filmmaker Mike Buonaiuto was also very helpful in the beautiful simplicity of its message.

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