UK legalizes same-sex marriage

[JURIST] Same-sex marriage will be legal in England and Wales after legislation received final approval from Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday. The House of Commons [official website] gave final approval of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill [HC Bill 3] on Tuesday. The original legislation was introduced in January [JURIST report] and will effectively extend the application of the Marriage Act of 1949 [materials] to same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples. The law will allow an exception for any religious institutions that do not wish to perform same-sex weddings. Same-sex couples in England and Wales have been permitted to enter into civil partnerships since 2005, allowing them to receive many of the same legal rights as married opposite-sex couples. The new law, however, will officially enable [BBC report] same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies by a consenting religious institution. It will also allow same-sex couples already in civil partnerships to convert their relationship into a marriage. Prime Minister David Cameron [official website], who also serves as the Leader of the Conservative Party [official website], has strongly supported the bill. His support has created tension [JURIST report] within the Conservative Party.

Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] continues to be a controversial issue internationally. Last month the US Supreme Court [official website] ruled in two landmark same-sex marriage cases. In United States v. Windsor [SCOTUSblog backgrounder], the court ruled [JURIST report] that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive] is unconstitutional. In Hollingsworth v. Perry [SCOTUSblog backgrounder], the court ruled that the petitioners lacked standing to appeal the district court's order striking down Proposition 8 [text, PDF; JURIST news archive], California's same-sex marriage ban. In May France legalized [JURIST report] same-sex marriage and established the right of same-sex couples to adopt. Also in May Brazil legalized [JURIST report] same-sex marriage in a court ruling that prevented notaries from denying to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples. In the same month, same-sex marriage legislation was approved in the US states of Minnesota, Delaware and Rhode Island [JURIST reports]. In April Ireland announced it would hold a referendum [JURIST report] on same-sex marriage.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.