Today Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal stamp of approval to the Marriage of Same Sex Couples Act, allowing same-sex marriage in England and Wales.

Although those of us living in the USA haven't been kept particularly up-to-date on these matters, this bill was introduced into the British Parliament on January 24, 2013, and has been subject to just as much hellfire as if it had been proposed in America. Very Scared People have explained that this bill is how "Nazis and Communists undermined faith" (The Right Reverend Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury), that this sort of nonsense might lead to legalizing polygamy, and have worried (out loud!) that teachers might have to face the intolerable burden of teaching children about gay people in school. There was also the rather bland Tweet by Labour MP Austin Mitchell that gay marriage is "neither urgent nor important"

The bill specifically guarantees that no church will be required to perform same-sex marriages; this was the famed 'quadruple lock' that occasionally was ignored-by-name in the American media and apparently dominated a number of debates in Britain. Basically, churches don't have to marry any same-sex couples, and this specifically includes the Church of England and the Church in Wales. As you might expect, the religious folks who were the most verbal did not really seem to care about how the law might affect their own religion, being much more concerned with society as a whole. The practical upshot seems to be that same-sex couples can't sue churches for not marrying them.

The first marriages allowed under this bill will take place some time next summer.

It should be noted that the UK has had legal civil partnerships giving the same rights and responsibilities as legal marriage since 2005. America still does not. Mostly because of that "Nazis and Communists" thing.