The first same sex weddings in England and Wales will be able to take place from Saturday 29 March 2014, Women and Equalities Minister Maria Miller announced today (10 December).
Following the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 successfully completing its journey through Parliament in July 2013, the government has been working to ensure that all the arrangements are in place to enable same sex couples to marry as soon as possible.
As a result of this work, the first weddings in England and Wales will now be able to happen several months earlier than the government anticipated.
Miller said: ‘Marriage is one of our most important institutions, and from 29 March 2014 it will be open to everyone, irrespective of whether they fall in love with someone of the same sex or opposite sex.
‘This is just another step in the evolution of marriage and I know that many couples up and down the country will be hugely excited that they can now plan for their big day and demonstrate their love and commitment to each other by getting married.’
Those couples wishing to be among the first to marry will need formally to give notice of their intention to marry on 13 March 2014.
Scotland is currently considering its own same-sex marriage legislation which is expected to pass soon.
The UK government has also announced:
- Same-sex couples who married abroad under foreign law and are currently treated as civil partners will instead be recognized as being married in England and Wales in March 2014.
- Same-sex weddings in some British consulates and armed forces bases overseas will be possible, and arrangements for same-sex weddings in military chapels will be in place from June 2014.
- The government is working on plans to allow couples in gay and lesbian civil partnerships to convert them into marriages. It will also allow married people wanting to change their legal gender, while remaining married, to do so. The aim is to have this in place from the end of 2014.