'You may now kiss the spouse'

AP

The State of California has approved a bill which means the words "husband" and "wife" will no longer be used in marriage law.

In a move described by the bill's author, Mark Leno, as a way by which to recognise "all married spouses equally, regardless of their gender," the new legislation follows the legalisation of same-sex marriage in California last year,

"I am pleased Governor Brown has recognized the importance of this bill, which makes it explicitly clear in state law that every loving couple has the right to marry in California," Leno announced in a statement last week.

Though some have welcomed the decision, noting that the traditional terminology did not accurately reflect the existence of same-sex marriage, others – unsurprisingly – are vehemently opposed.

The National Organisation for Marriage has denounced the language change, insisting that it is "further proof that redefining marriage is not simple about 'equality'...it is about fundamentally altering the meaning of the institution itself".

"[It is] discarding terms like "husband" and "wife" to the ash heap of history," a statement from the organisation continues.

Pro-traditional marriage lobby group Christian Concern has noted that a similar alteration of language was undertaken in British law following the legalisation of gay marriage in the UK, which proved to be incredibly complicated.

Officials were forced to revise terminology in centuries-old legislation which referred to "husband", "wife" and "widow".

"We are twisting language to fit a collective deception that undermines the truth about what marriage is," warned Christian Concern's Andrea Williams.

"The Government was warned time and again that its plans would result in legal confusion."

In an article for the Christian Post, author and professor Michael Brown has criticised California's latest legal move, insisting that by redefining marriage, it is "rendering foundational words and concepts meaningless, a sure recipe for cultural chaos".

"The implications of redefining marriage are staggering, and those of us who love and cherish marriage and family need to redouble our efforts and renew our courage to stand up for what is right and what is best, making a fresh determination to swim against the current flood tide of semantic and social confusion," he concludes.

The new law will come into effect in California in January 2015, and will define marriage as "a personal relation arising out of a civil contact between two persons".

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