The first gay weddings are set to take place in England and Wales in the summer of 2014, after controversial legislation to introduce same-sex marriage cleared the House of Lords.
Jubilant gay rights campaigners vowed to press for equal marriage in Scotland and Northern Ireland as they celebrated the successful passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill through the Upper House. With the final debates in the Commons expected to be little more than a formality today, the bill is likely to become law within days.
Openly gay Labour peer Lord Alli thanked peers in an emotional speech, declaring: “My life and many others will be better today than it was yesterday.”
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the new law would ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people felt “recognised and valued, not excluded”.
However, opponents of gay marriage warned that the government-backed reform would “come back to bite” prime minister David Cameron.
The Anglican Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, said it was “no secret” that the majority of Christian churches and other world faiths “don’t believe same-sex marriage accords with their understanding of marriage itself”.
But he added: “Many of us do welcome the social and legal recognition of same-sex partnerships and believe our society is a better and healthier one for such recognition.”
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