A bill to allow same-sex couples to be legally married in England and Wales passed the House of Commons on Tuesday (July 16), meaning the bill only had to be approved by Queen Elizabeth II (a formality in England) and same-sex marriage would become legal.
The AP reports that Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth gave her royal approval of the Marriage Bill, which also had the support of Prime Minister David Cameron, and now gay marriage is legal in England.
“The title of this bill might be marriage, but its fabric is about freedom and respect,” says Culture Secretary Maria Miller. “[The bill is] clear affirmation that as a nation, respect for each and every person is paramount regardless of age, religion, gender, ethnicity or sexuality.”
Lord Alli adds that he is proud to see the bill pass, as a gay man serving in the House of Lords. — “My life and the lives of many others will be better today than they were yesterday.”
Same-sex weddings could begin taking place as soon as next summer, reports the AP.
England is just the latest in an ever-growing list of countries to legalize same-sex marriage. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for same-sex couples (whose marriages are made legal by individual states) to have the same federal rights and protections as heterosexual couples that are married.