Oxford English Dictionary, the world's largest dictionary of the English language, has announced that the definition of the term "marriage" will be adjusted to include same-sex couples now that it is legal for homosexuals to wed each other in England.
"We continually monitor the words in our dictionaries, paying particular to those words whose usage is shifting, so yes, this will happen with marriage," said an Oxford University Press spokeswoman in a Gay Star News report on Wednesday.
The term "marriage" is currently defined by OxfordDictionaries.com as a "formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife." It further noted, however, that it is "(in some jurisdictions) a union between partners of the same sex."
"We are constantly monitoring usage in this area in order to consider what revisions and updates we may need to make," said the Oxford University Press spokeswoman.
"It's worth pointing out that, as the OED is distinct from other dictionaries in being a historical record of the language, meanings of the past will remain, even while language changes and new ones are added," she further noted.
According to the report, Gay rights activists have been arguing that the annotated reference to gay unions is discriminatory and "if it is law in any country it should be on the same 'ranking' as a heterosexual union."
In April, France's Larousse dictionary sparked a row in that country when it changed the definition of marriage to, a "solemn act between two same-sex or different-sex persons, who decide to establish a union," well before same-sex marriage was legalized.
France, however, later became the 13th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage on May 18, 2013. The legislation also applies to its overseas territories and departments.
Same-sex unions are currently legal in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay, England and Wales.