The Queen during the Coronation Festival on July 11, 2013 (Photo: Getty)
British lawmakers have passed a bill that makes same-sex marriage legal in England and Wales.
Earlier this week, the leadership of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal parties all backed the proposal allowing same-sex couples to wed.
The last hurdle for the bill to become law was Royal Assent, and today, Queen Elizabeth II approved the legislation.
England and Wales are expected to see their first gay and lesbian wedding ceremonies by next summer.
There were cheers from lawmakers in the Commons chamber when Speaker John Bercow announced that the bill had received Royal Assent.
During the debate on the issue, Equalities Minister Maria Miller argued that passing the bill was "clear affirmation" that "respect for each and every person is paramount, regardless of age, religion, gender, ethnicity or sexuality."
"The title of this bill might be 'Marriage', but its fabric is about freedom and respect," she said.
Opponents of the bill, however, expressed disappointment that it had passed.
Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth said it was "astonishing that a bill for which there is absolutely no mandate, against which a majority of Conservatives voted, has been bulldozed through both houses."
Couples who have previously entered into civil partnerships, which were introduced in 2005, will be able to convert their relationships into marriage.
In addition to passing the bill, ministers have agreed to look into eliminating any difference in the treatment of gay couples when it comes to pension schemes.