Britain’s House of Lords approved a bill Monday to make same-sex marriage legal throughout Britain and Wales. The country already allows civil partnerships for same-sex couples, but the new legislation will give gay and lesbian couples the dignity of equal marriage.
The House of Commons will debate the legislation today. Experts believe that approval is virtually guaranteed with support from the Liberal and Labour Parties. For a bill to become law in Britain, Queen Elizabeth II must give her Royal Assent, and many expect that to occur as early as Wednesday.
Same-sex marriages could commence in summer 2014.
‘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. 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,” said Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of Stonewall UK, the national LGBT rights organization.
Scotland and Northern Ireland, which comprise the United Kingdom with England and Wales, have not legalized same-sex marriage, but Scottish MPs recently introduced marriage equality legislation in Edinburgh. Eighteen countries on five continents have legalized same-sex marriage.