Marriage law takes effect in England and Wales

Today, the marriage law passed last year in the United Kingdom took effect - meaning that married same-sex couples living in England and Wales are now respected as married in the state. Unmarried couples were able to issue their "intent to marry" beginning today, but they cannot receive licenses until March 29, 2014, after the countries' 16-day waiting period. 

PinkNews reports:

The bulk of same-sex marriage legislation came into effect at midnight, meaning couples who have entered into same-sex marriages overseas are now recognised as married. Before today, same-sex couples who got married overseas had their marriages treated as a civil partnership in England and Wales, but the Equalities office says from today “they will instead be recognised as being married”.

Earlier this year, the United Kingdom passed a freedom to marry bill, which applies to both countries. In July 2013, the Queen of England granted royal assent, and final approval, to the bill. When the Queen granted this final approval, Freedom to Marry founder and President Evan Wolfson cheered on the victory, contextualizing the win in the international movement to protect same-sex couples and their families. Evan said:

After a rich and extensive months-long debate in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, Britain’s parliament passed a historic freedom to marry bill, introduced by a conservative prime minister and drawing support from across the spectrum. ... With the Supreme Court’s powerful ruling on federal respect for marriages nationwide, Freedom to Marry has laid out the roadmap of work needed to ensure that the United States joins these countries on the right side of history.

16 countries now have the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide: The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, Brazil, France, New Zealand, and Britain. Two others have taken regional steps to allow same-sex couples to share in the freedom to marry in parts of the country: Mexico and the United States. 

Learn all about the freedom to marry internationally HERE.