Same-sex marriage is now the law in England and Wales

Same-sex couples will be able to get married in England and Wales after new measures became law.

The government’s controversial legislation on the issue received Royal Assent on Wednesday.

The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat leaderships all backed the proposals, which were finally approved by MPs and peers earlier this week.

Continuing to call a measure “controversial” after all three major parties backed the proposals is only a comment on the BBC worrying about offending the few churchgoers left in the UK.

It is expected that the first gay and lesbian wedding ceremonies will take place by summer next year.

Under the terms of the the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, religious organisations will have to “opt in” to offering weddings, with the Church of England and Church in Wales being banned in law from doing so.

Commons Speaker John Bercow announced the bill had received Royal Assent – the formal approval of the sovereign required for all legislation. The news was greeted with cheers in the Commons chamber…

There will also be a review of whether groups such as the humanists will be allowed to carry out marriages, while ministers said they were prepared to look at eliminating any difference in the treatment of gay couples when it came to pension schemes.

During the Commons debate, Equalities Minister Maria Miller said the passing of the bill was “clear affirmation” that “respect for each and every person is paramount, regardless of age, religion, gender, ethnicity or sexuality”, she added.

Religious groups which traditionally support civil rights will opt-in, no doubt. Conservatives, cowards, cookie-cutter reactionaries will continue to whine until their children finally stop inviting them for holiday dinners – and they run out of people polite enough to listen to them.

Of course, all the reasons for passage of this law in the UK are as legitimate here in the United States. But, then, neither the White House nor Congress has sufficient courage to challenge bigots and backwards ideology.

Gordon Brown bruised after defeat over Gurkha immigration

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Gordon Brown was struggling last night to shore up his authority after suffering his first Commons defeat as prime minister when MPs voted to allow all retired Gurkhas to settle in Britain…

The political atmosphere changed yesterday after MPs backed by 267 votes to 246 a Liberal Democrat demand for “an equal right of residence for all Gurkhas”.

The defeat was a particular blow to Brown, who had strongly defended the government’s position when he faced sustained questioning on the Gurkhas from Cameron and Nick Clegg. Brown said an open policy could result in up to 100,000 Nepalese veterans and their relatives coming to the UK, at a cost of £1.4bn.

A Labour Prime Minister whose ideology sounds like a beancounter.

The vote was a personal victory for Clegg who was widely praised for putting in his strongest performance at prime minister’s questions when he condemned Brown for his “shameful” approach. “Can [the prime minister] not see that there is a simple moral principle at stake, and it is this: if someone is prepared to die for this country, surely they deserve to live in this country?” Clegg asked.

Clegg held a joint press conference after the vote outside the Commons with Cameron flanked by the actor Joanna Lumley, whose father fought with the Gurkhas in Burma. Lumley said: “Just before this vote was taken our spirits were nearly at zero. When it came through we saw it on the screen and I can’t tell you the sense of elation, the sense of pride – pride in our country, pride in the democratic system and pride in our parliament.”

We seem to be catching a few bright moments around the planet, lately. Some of the same old scum are still in power; but, maybe this is one of those days worth remembering.