British Government to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage
The British government announced Tuesday that it will introduce a bill next year legalizing gay marriage - but banning the Church of England from conducting same-sex ceremonies.
Equalities minister Maria Miller said the legislation would authorize same-sex civil marriages, as well as religious ceremonies if religions decide to "opt in."
"I feel strongly that, if a couple wish to show their love and commitment to each other, the state should not stand in their way," Miller said.
"For me, extending marriage to same-sex couples will strengthen, not weaken, this vital institution."
Some religious groups, such as Quakers and liberal Jews, say they want to conduct same-sex ceremonies.
But others, including the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, oppose gay marriage, and the government is seeking to reassure them that they will not be forced to take part.
Miller said the legislation would make it unlawful for the Church of England - the country’s official church, symbolically headed by Queen Elizabeth II - and the Anglican Church in Wales to conduct gay weddings.