Britain’s gay marriage bill passed in the House of Lords today, allowing gay marriages in England and Wales to be performed in 2014. The legislation will bounce back to the House of Commons for final debates on Tuesday.
The House of Commons passed the bill 390 to 148 in May, so the review will likely be no more than a formality. Queen Elizabeth II is likely to give official assent on Wednesday or Thursday.
Gay couples will be able to be married in both civil and religious ceremonies, except through the Church of England, which is barred from offering the ceremonies.
According to AFP, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg stated that the bill represents “the kind of open, modern, tolerant, and diverse society we want Britain to be in the 21st century.” Passage in the House of Lords was the last major obstacle the bill faced.
Supporters of the legislation in the upper chamber wore pink carnations. The bill survived despite attempts at a “wrecking amendment” by various members of the Conservative party. Gay rights activists cheered and danced outside Parliament at the bill’s passing.
Gay couples have been allowed to enter civil partnerships in Britain since 2005, which grants them rights and responsibilities identical to straight couples in a civil marriage.
“It is of huge symbolic importance, signaling that same-sex love has social recognition, acceptance, and parity,” gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said.
Activists have vowed to push similar measures in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Scotland issued its own gay marriage bill last month while Northern Ireland’s assembly voted against a similar measure.