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United Kingdom

British lawmakers pass same-sex marriage bill

British lawmakers have passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in England and Wales. The bill is expected to become law later this week, paving the way for the first same-sex weddings to be held in 2014.

After a two-hour debate, Britain's House of Commons passed the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) bill on Tuesday. The bill now only needs to be approved by Queen Elizabeth, which is a formality.

During the debate, MPs decided not to oppose several minor amendments to the bill which were proposed by the upper House of Lords.

"The title of this bill might be 'Marriage', but its fabric is about freedom and respect," Culture Secretary Maria Miller said.

The law had the support of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats, Britain's two other main political parties, but split Prime Minister David Cameron's ruling Conservative party. His own MPs had previously twice voted against it.

Cameron himself personally endorsed the bill to try to show his party was progressive, which left many of his own lawmakers criticizing him for being too liberal.

hc/tj (Reuters, AFP)