Queen Elizabeth II today signed same-sex marriage rights into law for citizens of England and Wales. The new law will go into effect next summer, according to multiple news outlets, and makes England the 16th country to enact marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.
The law doesn't cover the entirety of the United Kingdom, however. Scotland and Northern Ireland, both part of the UK, continue to ban gay unions.
We’ve made it. The right to equal marriage is now a reality.
This reform sends out the strongest message yet about the kind of open, modern, tolerant and diverse society we want Britain to be in the 21st century. Civil partnerships were a landmark reform. And not every couple, gay or straight, feels that they need to get married to affirm their commitment to each other. But only the right to marry, if that’s what you so choose, is true equality.
It lets every member of our LGBT community know that they are recognised [sic] and valued, not excluded. It finally ensures that all loving couples have the freedom and right to make that commitment to each other in our society.
That is why, as Deputy Prime Minister, I’ve been proud to support and fight for the right to equal marriage in this country. Congratulations to all those who made this reform happen. And good luck to everyone popping the question in the next few weeks and months.
American LGBT rights organizations, bolstered from their own recent victories at the United States Supreme Court in two cases involving same-sex marriage rights, also praised English lawmakers today.
After a rich and extensive months-long debate in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, Britain’s parliament passed a historic freedom to marry bill, introduced by a conservative prime minister and drawing support from across the spectrum. This victory makes 18 countries on five continents in which gay people can now share in the freedom to marry, with England and Wales joining Uruguay, New Zealand, France and Brazil in ending marriage discrimination this year alone. With the Supreme Court’s powerful ruling on federal respect for marriages nationwide, Freedom to Marry has laid out the roadmap of work needed to ensure that the United States joins these countries on the right side of history.
So far there’s been no word from anti-gay organizations like the National Organization for Marriage or the American Family Association. But you can bet they’re not having a good day.