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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 19, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 29
Her Majesty approves Queen Elizabeth OKs marriage bill, which now becomes law
Section One
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Her Majesty approves Queen Elizabeth OKs marriage bill, which now becomes law

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Britain's House of Commons Speaker John Bercow announced on July 17 that Queen Elizabeth II had given her 'royal assent' to the country's Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

Royal assent is the last step necessary for the bill to become law, and same-sex marriages are expected to begin in the summer of 2014. Unlike bill-signings by the U.S. president, the queen's assent does not take place in a public ceremony.

The House of Commons finished its work on the bill, adopting some amendments proposed by the House of Lords, on July 16. Lords passed the measure on July 15 after weeks of debate. Lords who supported the measure wore pink carnations for the final vote.

The House of Commons passed the bill on May 21. Although the bill was proposed by the Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition government, the opposition Labour Party leadership also backed the proposal.

CONSERVATIVES DIVIDED
Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader David Cameron had to fight strong opposition to marriage equality within his own party, and in the end relied on votes from his Labour opponents to pass the measure.

In its July 17 story on the bill, Business Insider gave Cameron credit for pushing the measure through. 'Gay marriage becomes legal in the U.K. because David Cameron had the guts to stand up to his own party,' its headline read.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, whose Liberal Democratic party supported the measure, told PinkNews blog that he was pleased with the results.

'I first talked about this issue on PinkNews over 3 years ago,' Clegg wrote. 'Back then, I know many of you feared that equal marriage might never happen. The obstacles to us achieving reform seemed insurmountable.

'But we consulted. We debated. And whatever has been said in Parliament since this process began, we know the majority of people in Britain support equal marriage. They see it is right. They say it is fair.'

FASTER THAN EXPECTED
Labor party leader Ed Miliband said he was surprised by the momentum of the campaign for equal marriage rights.

'When I first pledged my support for equal marriage - in an article for PinkNews during the Labour Party leadership campaign in 2010 - few people would have thought that in less than three years the legalisation would have passed through Parliament,' Miliband wrote.

'This shows how far we have come as a country in recent years - and is also a tribute to the fantastic campaigning by PinkNews and other groups.'

Equal rights activists hailed the final victory for the bill.

'We are delighted that after five years of editorial campaigning and just three years after we received the support of the three main party leaders, Parliament has finally approved same-sex marriage,' Out4Marriage founder Benjamin Cohen said.

'Giving Gay couples the right to marry will make Britain a more tolerant, open and welcoming place to live in and significantly increase the life prospects of so many people. It is absolutely fantastic that this change in the law, almost uniquely, was proposed by a Conservative prime minister and his Liberal Democrat deputy with the support of the Labour party leader. Sometimes politicians can work together for the common good and this is a stunning example of this.'

'NOT QUITE' EQUALITY
'This vote is a defeat for discrimination and a victory for love and marriage,' veteran activist Peter Tatchell said. 'After a 21-year-long campaign, we are now on the cusp of same-sex marriage but not quite marriage equality.

'Ending discrimination against same-sex couples in marriage law will overturn the last major legal discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people in Britain. It is of huge symbolic importance, signaling that same-sex love has social recognition, acceptance, and parity.'

'I am proud that we have made same-sex marriage happen,' said Cameron. 'I am delighted that the love two people have for each other - and the commitment they want to make - can now be recognized as equal. 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. I also want to acknowledge those who worked to bring about this moment: the campaigners, groups such as Out4Marriage and Freedom to Marry, and the team in the Civil Service and Parliament who worked to deliver it.'

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