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Queen Elizabeth II gives royal assent to same-gender marriage for England and Wales

LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II wasted no time in granting royal assent after Parliament passed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill this week.

The royal assent was granted today, the day after the bill received its final approval in the House of Commons. This means that the bill is now law in England and Wales in the United Kingdom.

Marriage equality is being discussed in Scotland, but Northern Ireland appears resistant to same-gender weddings.

For England and Wales, the first same-gender weddings will begin anywhere from the fall of 2013 to the summer 2014, depending on when the government updates paperwork and other legal documents and feels it is ready for implementation.

The law bans the powerful Church of England and the Church in Wales from offering same-gender marriages, and protects other religions that wish to prohibit such weddings.

Same-gender marriage has now been legalized in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands (and the Caribbean island of Saba), New Zealand (August 2013), Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay (August 2013). Legal experts are now debating whether Costa Rica has also legalized same-gender marriage.

In Mexico, same-gender marriage is available in the Federal District (Mexico City) and in the states of Oaxaca and Quintana Roo. The marriages are recognized nationwide by Supreme Court order.

In the United States, same-gender marriage has been legalized in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (Aug. 1), New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island (Aug. 1), Vermont and Washington -- and in Washington, D.C. It also is legal within the Coquille Indian tribe in Oregon, the Suquamish Indian tribe in Washington state and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan.

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.