The UK culture secretary and equalities minister has said making same-sex marriage the law shows how ‘society has evolved’.
Maria Miller was speaking shortly after the House of Commons considered the Lords’ amendments to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill and sent it to Queen Elizabeth II to be signed into law.
She said: ‘The completion of the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill through parliament, undefeated in all aspects, is a tremendous achievement.
‘Whilst this legislation may be about marriage, its impact is so much wider.
‘Making marriage available to all couples demonstrates our society’s respect for all individuals regardless of their sexuality.
‘It demonstrates the importance we attach to being able to live freely. It says so much about the society that we are and the society that we want to live in.’
Miller added as society has evolved, so has marriage and in her view the extension of marriage to same-sex couples is part of it.
‘Ultimately if two people love each other then they should be able to demonstrate their commitment to each other through marriage,’ she said.
‘This is a historic moment that will resonate in many people’s lives – and I am proud that we have made it happen.’
In Scotland, alternative legislation was launched at the end of June with plans for it to be discussed and voted on in October or November.
In Northern Ireland, every attempt to get same-sex marriage through the Assembly has so far failed.
After the Queen gives the England and Wales bill the Royal Assent, hopefully by the end of this week, there will be an implementation period of about a year.
While the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said gay couples may be able to marry earlier, it will definitely be official by summer 2014.