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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 13 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 50
English weddings to begin in March 2014
Section One
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English weddings to begin in March 2014

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The first Gay and Lesbian weddings can begin in England and Wales on March 29, 2014, UK Equalities Minister Maria Miller announced on December 10.

Beginning in June 2014, British couples will also be able to celebrate same-sex weddings in some British consulates and armed forces bases overseas, and in military chapels.

Same-sex marriages were initially scheduled to begin in summer 2014, but will now be able to start months earlier, BBC News reported. Couples who wish to marry on the first day possible will have to post formal notice of their intentions by March 13.

'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,' Miller told reporters.

'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.'

Miller added that she was 'working hard' to ensure that couples who wanted to convert civil partnerships into marriages, and married people who wanted to change their legal gender while remaining married, would be able to do so before the end of next year.

Liberal Democratic Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg Tweeted 'Great news that same sex weddings will happen from 29th March 2014 #savethedate.'

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the LGBT rights group Stonewall, said he was 'delighted' at the announcement.

'This 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,' he said.

Under the terms of the marriage law enacted in July this year, the Church of England, which had objected to marrying same-sex couples, is forbidden to perform Gay or Lesbian weddings. In November, however, a commission of seven Anglican bishops proposed that the church hold 'blessing' ceremonies for same-sex couples who have been married in civil weddings.

Other denominations may 'opt in' to same-sex weddings, but no religious institution is required to perform them

Scotland, which has been internally self-governing since 1998, is not under the British marriage law, but a separate same-sex marriage law has passed an initial vote in the Scottish parliament and is expected to be enacted in 2014.

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