After a long parliamentary process gay marriage became law tonight - something I believe we can be proud of as a country.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has thanked "all who helped" pass gay marriage into law:
The Same-Sex Marriage Bill has now had royal assent. Thanks too all who helped. The first same-sex marriages will take place in Summer 2014
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has passed into law in England and Wales after being granted royal assent.
The Act will:
- Allow same sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies
- Allow same sex couples to marry in religious ceremonies (where the religious organisation has "opted in"' to conduct such ceremonies and the minister of religion agrees)
- Protect those religious organisations and their representatives who don't wish to conduct marriages of same sex couples from successful legal challenge
- Enable civil partners to convert their partnership to a marriage if they wish
- Enable married individuals to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said, "Together, we've made history" after same-sex marriage passed into law:
MPs cheered today as they were told gay marriage had passed into law.
Speaker John Bercow announced in the Commons that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill had been granted royal assent by the Queen:
The publisher of PinkNews said they were "delighted" that same-sex marriage in England and Wales has been signed into law.
Benjamin Cohen, who also founded the Out4Marriage campaign, said, "Giving gay couples the right to marry will make our nation a more tolerant, open and welcoming place to live in and significantly increase the life prospects of so many people".
The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales said that the passing of same-sex marriage into law "marks a watershed in English law and heralds a profound social change."
Archbishop of Westminster the Most Rev Vincent Nichols and the Archbishop of Southwark Peter Smith said in a statement: "The new Act breaks the existing legal links between the institution of marriage and sexual complementarity.
"With this new legislation, marriage has now become an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, are no longer central.
"That is why we were opposed to this legislation on principle."
Stephen Fry has thanked the Queen for giving royal assent to the Bill that passes same-sex marriage into law:
Equalities minister Maria Miller said she was looking forward to the first same-sex wedding by next summer after the Bill received royal assent.
Mrs Miller said in a statement: "Marriage is the bedrock of our society and now irrespective of sexuality everyone in British society can make that commitment.
"Making marriage available to all couples demonstrates our society's respect for all individuals regardless of their sexuality.
"This is a historic moment that will resonate in many people's lives. I am proud that we have made it happen, and I look forward to the first same-sex wedding by next summer."
Gay rights campaign group Stonewall heralded the Marriage (Sam Sex Couples) Bill as "an historic moment for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, their families and their friends".
After the Bill received royal assent, Stonewall released an image on Twitter with the words "Thank you Ma'am".
The group added, "This Bill will mean that, for the first time, children growing up to be gay in England and Wales will have full equality in law. We can now proudly claim to be a beacon to the world for gay equality."