On Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth II gave a nod of her crowned head to the UK’s same-sex marriage bill, offering the final consent needed for the measure to become law.Introduced in January, the bill met opposition in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords, but ultimately passed. When the Queen’s approval was made known on Wednesday, cheers rang through the parliamentary chamber. The Telegraph reports the bill is “one of the most radical pieces of social legislation of (Queen Elizabeth’s) reign.”The Washington Post reports: The law enables gay couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies in England and Wales, provided that the religious institution consents. The Church of England, the country’s official faith, is barred from performing such ceremonies.Still, the bill is being praised a gay-rights victory. Equalities minister Maria Miller told the Telegraph, “It demonstrates the importance we attach to being able to live freely. … It says so much about the society that we are and the society that we want to live in”.Civil unions became legal in the UK in 2005. Now couples will be able to convert their unions to marriage. The first same-sex marriages are likely to take place in the summer of 2014.
Emma Foehringer Merchant is a summer 2013 editorial intern.