WASHINGTON – At the stroke of midnight (yesterday), thousands of gay and lesbian couples in England and Wales will tie the knot. At that time, marriage equality will become the law of the land, bringing to 16 the number of countries where committed gay and lesbian couples can legally marry. According to news reports, couples are vying to be first to be married by holding ceremonies shortly after midnight.
“Today, the people of England and Wales should be proud to be part of a great new international commonwealth—the 16 nations of the world that extend all citizens the right to marriage equality,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Countless British couples have waited decades for this day to arrive, and today the American LGBT community celebrates with them as we continue to fight for progress here at home.” [pullquote]“Today, the people of England and Wales should be proud to be part of a great new international commonwealth—the 16 nations of the world that extend all citizens the right to marriage equality,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.[/pullquote]
“What’s certain is that this day would not have been possible without the leadership of Prime Minister David Cameron, who famously declared that his support for marriage equality is linked deeply to his values as a conservative. Ever since I first had the chance to discuss this issue with Prime Minister Cameron two years ago during a White House state dinner, it has been clear to me that his commitment to LGBT equality is deeply ingrained and that he truly deserves his reputation as an international leader in this struggle.”
“The first same-sex marriages are a landmark moment for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain, said Ruth Hunt, acting CEO of Stonewall UK. “For the first time ever, same-sex couples can have their love and commitment recognised in exactly the same way as their heterosexual friends and family. Images of the first weddings will clearly show that Britain is now a beacon of equality around the world.”
The British Parliament passed the marriage equality law last year, with the support of Prime Minister David Cameron and Queen Elizabeth II’s stamp of approval. Under the new marriage equality law, gay and lesbian couples can marry in both civil and religious ceremonies in England and Wales, although the Church of England will not conduct wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. Also, under the law, couples who had previously entered into civil partnerships can convert those partnerships to marriage. Scotland passed a marriage equality bill in February. Once marriages begin later this year, marriage equality will be the law in the United Kingdom, except for Northern Ireland.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
[From a News Release]