- (Photo: Reuters/UK Parliament)
On Wednesday, Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II officially approved same-sex marriage in the country, one day after the bill cleared parliament.
Although Queen Elizabeth's royal stamp of approval was a formality, her final clearance means that same-sex marriages can be performed beginning next summer.
"This is a historic moment that will resonate in many people's lives," said Culture Minister Maria Miller, whose department was responsible for the bill, according to the Associated Foreign Press.
"I am proud that we have made it happen, and I look forward to the first same sex wedding by next summer," Miller added.
The law allows both same-sex marriages and civil unions to be performed in England and Wales by any religious group willing to do so. The Church of England, however, is officially barred from performing same-sex marriages.
British Prime Minister David Cameron officially endorsed the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill, a move that upset many conservatives in his party, who argued their Christian faith dictated that marriage is defined as between one man and one woman.
The Telegraph reports that the new law is one of the most radical pieces of social legislation to be passed by the Queen during her reign.
The Evangelical Alliance, which oversees thousands of churches and Christian charities in the country, said in a statement that the approval of the legislation redefines marriage as a "fluid, gender-neutral institution" backed by "consumer demands and political expediency."
Additionally, Conservative lawmaker Gerald Howarth argued that the legislation was "bulldozed" through parliament without proper discussion.
Those supporting the new law highlight that it does now include a number of amendments that offer protection of free speech for those continuing to opposing same-sex marriage. However, those fighting against the redefinition of marriage do not agree and have vowed to continue to fight for marriage.
Colin Hart, campaign director for Coalition for Marriage, which supports the biblical definition of marriage, said opponents of same-sex marriage will not give up their fight.
"They are just ordinary men and women, not part of the ruling elite. They are passionate, motivated and determined to fight on against a law that renders terms like husband and wife meaningless and threatens one of the foundations of the institution of marriage: fidelity and faithfulness," Hart said, as reported by The Christian Post.
The same-sex marriage legislation previously passed the House of Commons with a vote of 390 to 148.