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LONDON — After members of Parliament cheered, writer, broadcaster and comedian Stephen Fry was among the high-profile celebrants when gay marriage became legal in England and Wales on Wednesday.
The passing of the legal bill into law, after the necessary royal seal of approval of the legislation from Queen Elizabeth II, hit the headlines and stirred social media celebrations among both gay and straight media and entertainment figures.
Fry, a campaigner for gay rights, tweeted: “Thanks, Your Majesty, for the Royal Assent. You soon won’t be the only married queen in Britain. Hurrah, hurray hurroo!’”
John Barrowman, who shot to prominence in five episodes of the revitalized Doctor Who in 2005 before his character, Captain Jack, was given its own series, Torchwood, in 2006, was among the first to tweet.
Taking a swipe at the Church of England’s protestations surrounding the bill, Barrowman said: “Thank you Maam and all who fought to make #samesexmarriage legal #churchofEngland u will miss out on some great Parties. Jb”
As the final approval in the House of Commons of the British parliament was announced by the Speaker, the chamber broke out in cheers.
Culture secretary Maria Miller, who also sports the equalities minister hat, said the law was about “freedom and respect.”
Miller, a member of the Conservative party, was on the opposite side of the fence to many of her own political party after the bill split the ministers.
As The Daily Mail trumpeted, the legislation had proven deeply controversial, with British prime minister David Cameron accused of pushing it through “despite it not being in either the Tory [party] or Liberal Democrat [party] manifestos in 2010,” when the parties were vying for votes before the last general election here.
Dozens of Conservative members of parliament tried to derail the bill, which only passed the Commons with the support of Labour and Lib Dem votes.
But Miller, writing in The Daily Telegraph newspaper, aligned the vote to allow same-sex marriages with the long tradition of social reform, spanning the suffragette campaigns of Emmeline Pankhurst and the factory acts of Sir Robert Peel.
“Making marriage available to all couples demonstrates our society’s respect for all individuals regardless of their sexuality,” Miller wrote. “It demonstrates the importance we attach to being able to live freely. That gay or straight, you have the same right to live a happy and fulfilled life in Britain today.”
L.A. based actor, writer and designer Robert Keniston took a pop at American conservatives in the ongoing battle for gay marriage rights in the U.S.
“Same Sex Marriage legalized in England & Wales by HRM The Queen. Conservatives in U.S. now officially more stuffier/old fashioned than her,” Keniston tweeted.
The bill enables gay couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies in England and Wales. It also will allow couples who had previously entered into a civil partnership to convert their relationship to a marriage.
However, religious organizations will have to ‘opt in’ on performing gay marriages.
Stonewall, the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, posted an “Equal Marriage Thank You” message on its website heralding it as a move towards equality.
But Dutch parliamentarian and LGBT rights advocate Boris Dittrich, wrote on The Independent newspaper website that the law “does not end discrimination,” warning that there is still much work to be done.
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