Gay Marriage is legal in England after Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal stamp of approval. While the Queen of England holds a ceremonial position in the British legislature, her approval caps a landmark achievement in the gay rights movement. The Queen’s approval came on Wednesday, the day after Parliament voted to pass the law, which allows same-sex couples to marry in a religious or civil ceremony. Couples that previously had civil union status may now switch that to full marriage (the whole civil union thing seems sort of silly in retrospect, doesn’t it?).
England becomes the tenth European country to legalize same-sex marriage, with Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden having already made that advance in civil rights. Gay marriage is also legal in Argentina, Brazil and Canada, with New Zealand and Uruguay having passed laws that come into effect in August.
That the Queen of England, a symbol of tradition if ever there was one, would give her approval to same-sex marriage is as good a sign as any of the incredible cultural shift in favor of gay marriage. It is as though every day, thousands of people woke up and realized that there is no reason to have two a different set of laws for gay people than we do for straight people.
Expect Queen Elizabeth’s crowning of same-sex marriage to be just one more in the stream of headlines from Europe, the Americas, and one day Asia and Africa on the legalization of same-sex marriage. The sooner the better. Real lives are at stake.