UK to Legalize Gay Marriage as Early as 2014

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Parliament leaders have unveiled a plan that will legalize gay marriage in Great Britain as early as 2014 while protecting churches that oppose it.

Gay couples have been able to form civil partnerships in Great Britain since 2005.

Equalities Minister Maria Miller outlined the plan before the House of Commons this week saying, "extending marriage to same-sex couples will strengthen not weaken this vital institution."

The plan would ban the Church of England and the Church of Wales to perform such ceremonies because of their strident opposition.

"Because the Church of England and Wales have explicitly stated that they do not wish to conduct same-sex marriage, the legislation will explicitly state that it would be illegal for the Churches of England and Wales to marry same-sex couples," Miller said. "They have a right to fight for and articulate their beliefs."

British Prime Minister David Cameron backs homosexual marriage in churches but specified that he wants a "100 percent" guarantee that no church, synagogue, or mosque be forced to conduct them.

However, gay marriage supporters do not approve that churches are given the right to opt out.

"We talk about how this is the bedrock of society, and how important it is for people to be making a commitment, and that we want them to have the church as part of that community, and the church is saying, 'No, we're not going to be involved in that," Rev. Sharon Ferguson, with the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement, said.

"It just makes more and more people feel that the church is not a place where they want to be," she said.

The British government is set to introduce the bill next year.

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