The United Kingdom has legalized same-sex marriage in England and Wales after centuries of unwritten understanding that marriage was solely between a man and woman.
Queen Elizabeth gave her formal approval as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England Wednesday, the final hurdle for approval, said The Telegraph
The Roman Catholic Church said the new law would lead to "profound social change" in the country.
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The Telegraph quoted Ben Summerskill of Stonewall, which advocates for homosexual rights in the United Kingdom, as saying the law will "bring joy to tens of thousands of gay couples and their friends and families."
"The bill's progress through Parliament shows that, at last, the majority of politicians in both Houses understand the public's support for equality – thought it's also reminded us that gay people still have powerful opponents," Summerskill told the International Business Times
BBC News said the first gay and lesbian wedding ceremonies
could take place in England and Wales by next summer.
The turning point in getting the same-sex marriage bill passed was a measure that allowed religious institutions to "opt in" to performing same-sex weddings, according to BBC News. There was a concern that churches could be exposed to lawsuits if the "opt in" measure had not been added.
BBC News reported that Parliament members agreed to minor changes by the House of Lords on Tuesday to move the legislation forward. During the House of Commons debate, Equalities Minister Maria Miller said the passing of the bill confirms "respect for each and every person is paramount, regardless of age, religion, gender, ethnicity or sexuality."
Sir Gerald Howarth said he felt the same-sex marriage legislation was being "bulldozed through both houses."
"I think the government should think very carefully in future if they want the support of these benches," Howarth warned, according to BBC News. "Offending large swathes of the Conservative Party is not a good way of going about it."
Paul Parker, recording clerk for Quakers in Britain, told the BBC News that he saw the sex-same marriage issue as one of equality.
"It's wonderful to see same-sex marriage achieve legal recognition," Parker told BBC. "Quakers see the light of God in everyone so we respect the inherent worth of each individual and each loving relationship."
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