Same-sex marriage now legal in England and WalesAround the World, Online Only, Top Highlights Monday, March 31st, 2014
Saturday, thousands of gay and lesbian couples in England and Wales tied the knot as marriage equality became the law of the land, bringing to 16 the number of countries where committed gay and lesbian couples can legally marry. According to news reports, couples are vying to be first to be married by holding ceremonies shortly after midnight.
“Today, the people of England and Wales should be proud to be part of a great new international commonwealth—the 16 nations of the world that extend all citizens the right to marriage equality,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Countless British couples have waited decades for this day to arrive, and today the American LGBT community celebrates with them as we continue to fight for progress here at home.”
“What’s certain is that this day would not have been possible without the leadership of Prime Minister David Cameron, who famously declared that his support for marriage equality is linked deeply to his values as a conservative. Ever since I first had the chance to discuss this issue with Prime Minister Cameron two years ago during a White House state dinner, it has been clear to me that his commitment to LGBT equality is deeply ingrained and that he truly deserves his reputation as an international leader in this struggle.”
“The first same-sex marriages are a landmark moment for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain, said Ruth Hunt, acting CEO of Stonewall UK. “For the first time ever, same-sex couples can have their love and commitment recognized in exactly the same way as their heterosexual friends and family. Images of the first weddings will clearly show that Britain is now a beacon of equality around the world.”
In an article for the Pink News website, Prime Minister Cameron wrote: “This weekend is an important moment for our country.
“It says we are a country that will continue to honor its proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth.
“Put simply, in Britain it will no longer matter whether you are straight or gay – the State will recognize your relationship as equal.”
According to a report by BBC News, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said “Britain will be a different place” as a result.
He congratulated his party for being part of the reform, saying: “If our change to the law means a single young man or young woman who wants to come out, but who is scared of what the world will say, now feels safer, stronger, taller – well, for me, getting into coalition government will have been worth it just for that.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband congratulated those planning to tie the knot.
“This is an incredibly happy time for so many gay couples and lesbian couples who will be getting married, but it’s an incredibly proud time for our country as well, recognizing equal marriage in law,” he said.
The British Parliament passed the marriage equality law last year, with the support of Prime Minister David Cameron and Queen Elizabeth II’s stamp of approval. Under the new marriage equality law, gay and lesbian couples can marry in both civil and religious ceremonies in England and Wales, although the Church of England will not conduct wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. Also, under the law, couples who had previously entered into civil partnerships can convert those partnerships to marriage. Scotland passed a marriage equality bill in February. Once marriages begin later this year, marriage equality will be the law in the United Kingdom, except for Northern Ireland.
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