Same-sex couples to marry at the stroke of midnight

A 'significant milestone' in the fight for equality, but opinion remains divided

gay marriage
(Image credit: 2008 Getty Images)

A RAINBOW flag will fly above Whitehall tomorrow as same-sex marriage is legalised across England and Wales. Couples will be allowed to marry from midnight tonight, with dozens vying to become the first gay married couple in the UK.

The Marriage (Same-Sex) Act, passed in July last year, has provoked much debate. Here is a selection of responses:

David Cameron has called it an example of Britain's proud traditions of tolerance, respect and equal worth.

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Nick Clegg, the first party leader to publicly support equal marriage, has called tomorrow "a day our nation will never forget" and thanked the British public for their "overwhelming support" in his column for Pink News.

Ruth Hunt, chief executive of gay rights charity Stonewall, said same-sex weddings will send "a powerful message" to people across the UK and the world that "you can live and love as you choose".

Nigel Farage, leader of Ukip faces calls to clarify his party's stance on gay marriage after he refused to give a clear answer on the issue, the Daily Telegraph reports. He said he would oppose it for as long as Britain is subject to the European Court of Human Rights. Earlier this year, Ukip councillor David Silvester was dismissed by his party for blaming the recent floods on the passage of the same-sex marriage act and calling homosexuality "a spiritual disease that should be cured".

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, signalled a change in the Church's attitude, saying this week that the Church of England would no longer oppose same-sex marriage. He told the The Guardian that the Church has "fully accepted" the law and will show "the love of Christ for every human being".

Public opinion on same-sex marriage remains divided. A BBC Radio 5 poll today revealed that 20 per cent of British adults would turn down an invitation to a same-sex wedding.

There is also a difference in opinion within the gay community itself, with some arguing that because marriage is "heteronormative institution that has historically marginalised homosexuality", gay people should not aspire to it, the BBC reports.

Gay actor Rupert Everett told the Guardian that he found it "beyond tragic that we want to ape this institution that is so clearly a disaster."

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