Queen Gives Her Blessing; Same-Sex Marriages to Begin in UK
With this final, formal step in a long debate, Queen Elizabeth II has given her blessing to same-sex marriages, which will begin next year in the United Kingdom.
The Associated Press reports that the House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said the queen's approval came on Wednesday, just one day after Parliament had finished its work. The change in law takes effect in time for summer weddings in 2014.
On May 21, the bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons by a vote of 366 to 161. It passed its third reading in the House of Lords on July 15.
Prime Minister David Cameron is credited with pushing for marriage equality. While speaking to his own Conservative Party in a speech in 2011, Cameron explained, "Yes, it's about equality. But it's also about something else: commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society's stronger when we make vows to each other and we support each other. So I don't support gay marriage in spite of being a conservative, I support gay marriage because I am a conservative."
LGBT activists in the country rejoiced at the news while also noting work left to be done.
"It’s impossible to express how much joy this historic step will bring to tens of thousands of gay people and their families and friends," said the head of Stonewall in the U.K., Ben Summerskill, in a news release. "The bill’s progress through Parliament shows that, at last, the majority of politicians in both Houses understand the public’s support for equality — though it’s also reminded us that gay people still have powerful opponents."
The group had famously purchased ads on Britain's iconic double-decker buses that expanded on its slogans, such as "Some Guys Marry Guys. Get Over It!" and "Some People Are Gay. Get On With It!" Opponents of marriage equality pushed for ads mocking the slogans by claiming gay people can be turned straight, ""Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!"
Marriage equality faced vocal opposition, especially from religious leaders but also in Parliament, where amendments intended to scuttle the bill were denied. Now Stonewall intends to redouble its efforts to bring marriage equality to Scotland.