Paul Chiasson, The Canadian Press, Associated Press
Queen Elizabeth II, seen here in a June 29, 2010, photo, gave final approval Wednesday to a same-sex marriage bill. in Halifax.

By now it’s basically common knowledge a British bill legalizing same-sex marriage passed into law Wednesday, and England’s first gay marriages are expected to take place in 2014.

However, what hasn’t been as widely reported is that that legislation — The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill — also allows same-sex couples historic liberties with how they use the traditionally gender-specific terms “husband” and “wife.”

“A man can be a ‘wife’ and a woman can be a ‘husband,’ the UK government has decided, overruling the Oxford English Dictionary and effectively putting an end to the traditional meanings of the words for marriage partners,” the international news website reported last month. “… Updated explanatory notes in The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill being considered by the government is causing it to have to redefine the two terms, ‘clarifying’ what it means.

“(The new footnote says), ‘Husband' here will include a man or a woman in a same sex marriage, as well as a man married to a woman. In a similar way, 'wife' will include a woman married to another woman or a man married to a man.”