Same-sex British couples can walk down the aisle starting March
by FFE EU News Staff
Same-sex couples who want to be married in England can start filing their notice of intention starting 13 March. The weddings can begin by 29 March, announced Equalities minister Maria Miller.
The passage of the Marriage or Same-sex Couples Act allowed the government to finish all necessary arrangements ahead of schedule. It was initially said that the first same-sex marriages wouldn’t take place until summer 2014.
The minister said that legalising same-sex marrages was ‘just another step in the evolution of marriage.’
‘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.’ Despite opposition from the Conservative parties, religious groups and the Church of England and of Wales, MPs still approved the act that received Royal Assent in July.
The passage and implementation of the act is, according to gay rights group Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill, a ‘historic step will mean that, for the first time, every gay person in England and Wales will finally enjoy exactly the same rights as their heterosexual friends and family.’
Meanwhile, deputy prime minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said on his Twitter:
The Labour’s shadow minister for women and equalities, Gloria De Piero, also lauded the announcement, saying ‘fantastic news for so many couples who have been waiting to set a date for their wedding.’
Church and religious groups are divided on the issue. Jewish Liberal and Reform synagogues and Quakers have shown support for gay marriage. Roman Catholic Churches of England and Wales, the Muslim Council of Great Britain and the Network of Sikh Organisations have all opposed gay marriage. But under the bill, religious groups have to ‘opt in’ to offering weddings.
The Scottish Parliament has made moves to introduce a similar act in the region, but the Church of Scotland is opposing them. The Northern Ireland Assembly is currently not considering a similar move.