Same-sex couples can now legally marry in England and Wales. Parliament had passed the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act last July, but because of various implementation deadlines, it wasn't until today that couples could actually wed. Prime minister David Cameron heralded the change by writing: "Put simply, in Britain it will no longer matter whether you are straight or gay—the State will recognize your relationship as equal."
The Church of England, which was created in 1534 because King Henry VIII thought the Catholic Church was too conservative about traditional marriage, has also softened its stance. Though the church leadership had originally announced plans to forbid clergy from performing same-sex marriages, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said Friday night that it would no longer oppose gay marriage among Anglicans. "The law's changed; we accept the situation," he told the BBC.
A recent BBC poll found 68% of Britons accepting of gay marriage, so the Church's shift may not be unexpected. However, the church has said that it won't allow clergy themselves to enter into same sex partnerships because "getting married to someone of the same sex would clearly be at variance with the teaching of the Church of England," which seems a bit like they're saying, "Ok, you can get gay married and be ok with your friends and family who get gay married because you like Jesus but you don't like like Jesus. If you like like Jesus, you can't get gay married because gay marriage is still against God's plan."
But anyway, the church issue aside, good for England. Good for Wales. Equality was long overdue in Albion as it is everywhere. (Scotland recently passed legislation to legalize gay marriage by the autumn as well.)