The Momentum Continues

Marriage Equality Now Official In England And Wales

After a long and sometimes bumpy ride through Parliament, marriage equality is now the law of the land in England and Wales. Just a day after the House of Lords approved same-sex marriages, the House of Commons finalized the passage after a two-hour debate. The bill now goes to the Queen (Elizabeth, that is) for royal assent, but that’s a monarchic formality expected to take place later this week. Marriage ceremonies will begin next summer.

The bill was backed by Tory Prime Minister David Cameron, who wanted to prove his party was progressive on social issues. However, Cameron paid a substantial political price for his backing. More than half of his party’s members in the House of Commons voted against the bill, including some of his own Cabinet ministers. That Tory rancor continued right down to the final debate. Former Defence Minister Sir Gerald Howarth called the law “wretched” and warned that people who oppose marriage equality “unable or inhibited from expressing their true opinions that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” (Yes, having to hide your homophobia is ever so much worse than denying people their rights.)

The impending passage of the law caused the predictable freak-out among the religious right. Anglican Mainstream, which is anything but, went to the summit of hysteria to suggest direct parallels to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.

By contrast, LGBT activists were ecstatic. “”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,”  Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay group Stonewall,  said in an online statement. “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.”

However, marriage equality supporters still have their work cut out for them. Same-sex marriages are still not recognized in Scotland. Summerskill said that the focus will now move there “so that every single gay person in Britain will soon enjoy full equality.”

Photo credit: Stonewall Facebook Page

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  • yaoming

    God save the Queen(s).

  • Joetx

    And the U.S. gets passed again.

  • yaoming

    @Joetx: @Joetx: If only England and Wales have passed marriage equality, then the UK has not yet surpassed the US, though they probably will, eventually, assuming Scotland and N. Ireland aren’t far behind and the whole country ends up going gay.

  • Kieran

    Props must be given to David Cameron for his skillful leadership in navigating the Ship of marriage equality through some decidely rough and hostile English waters. Cameron is obviously a man of courage and character.

  • Katbox

    I want to move to the uk

  • FStratford

    Looking at % of population, the UK is ahead of the US.

    Props to the Brits!

  • 2eo

    Hundreds of hours of work, activism, writing and community liaising pays off.

    Exceedingly happy.

  • Stevenw

    It was amusing to see the usual suspects wail and tremble. Sadly, the predicted apocalpse didn’t come when we got civil partnerships went through, so they never really had a leg to stand on – but what does logic have to do with right-wing fear?

    In summary: up yours, ‘Sir’ Howarth.

  • alexoloughlin

    @yaoming: Yes it has surpassed the U.S. even before the bill passed yesterday. You still have 37 states without equal marriage and those gay married couples in the 13 that have it, still do not have portability outside their states. How on earth can you say the U.S. is ahead? The UK is far ahead on LGBT issues, has been for the past twelve years. Openly gay men and women have been allowed to serve in the military for a decade or more and foreign born partners were and are allowed to migrate with their British partners to the UK and reside without even being married, to name but a few rights we enjoy in the UK.

  • alexoloughlin

    The Marriage Bill isn’t law yet until it receives Royal Assent in a day or two at which time it becomes an Act of Parliament, on statute which makes it officially the law of the land.

  • alexoloughlin

    The Queen has just given Royal Assent! The Marriage Bill is now an Act of Parliament, law of the land and on statute. Time to celebrate and party! Country number 15! Cool Britannia!

  • 1EqualityUSA

    I’m so happy for you! Thanks for your courage in speaking out for equality. Yes, The U.S. needs equality from Coast to Coast, but too many are still making money off of our backs, fanning the bigotry. This is great news, as others will follow very soon. It is really something to celebrate. Congratulations on being seen as equal citizens!

  • Thomathy

    yaoming, the Parliament in England doesn’t have jurisdiction over Scotland or Northern Ireland in this (and most) matters. Scotland is a country, not a state or a province, that is part of the United Kingdom. There are few parallels that could be drawn between the governance of Scotland and its relation to England (the seat of the Kingdom) and the US Federal and State governments. The same is essentially true of Northern Ireland, which could best be described as an autonomously administrated region.

    It can rightly be said that the UK has surpassed the US in the matter of marriage equality. Scotland isn’t far behind anyhow. Northern Ireland, on the other hand, isn’t likely to go that route anytime soon …the Assembly defeated a motion calling for marriage equality on 29 April of this year.

  • Windhover

    @alexoloughlin: You’re right. The UK is way ahead of the US. (Of course, my country–Canada–is ahead of the UK.) It’s been a very long time since the US was a leader in civil rights. If Americans want to feel good about their country, they should stick to comparisons with Russia.

  • 1EqualityUSA


  • Windhover

    Sorry 1EqualityUSA. I like lots of things about the States, but there’s no use in pretending that civil rights there are on a level with most of what is called the developed world. But don’t give up. Say not the struggle nought availeth. And perhaps slow & steady wins the race.

  • KSgm62

    If Americans want to feel good about their country, especially when it comes to gay issues, they should get their noses out of the asses of the Democrats. In 2009, we had “Hope and Change” Obama, a majority in the House of Reps and a filibuster proof super majority in the Senate. What was done concerning gay rights? NOTHING. Nothing was done about DOMA and DADT was only slipped into a defense bill during a lame duck session after the Dems lost the house…and Obama wanted to put off dealing with DADT until 2011, when he knew damn good and well that the Republicans would likely control the House and possibly the Senate. Don’t confuse this with supporting Republicans as I know some brainwashed zombies who can only spew out talking points of the gay left will try to do. The Democratic leadership in the US does not give a damn about gay rights unless they can use it as a fundraising tactic, which means they won’t do anything that could cause that source of money to dry up.

  • Mezaien

    @yaoming: God shave the queers ehehehe.

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