What the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act does
The Act, which mainly extends to England and Wales only:
enables same sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies;
ensures those religious organisations that wish to do so can opt in to conduct marriage ceremonies for same sex couples;
protects religious organisations and their representatives from successful legal challenge, if they do not wish to marry same sex couples;
enables civil partners to convert their partnership into a marriage, if they wish;
enables individuals to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage.
Implementation of the Act
Same sex couples not in an existing legal marriage or civil partnership can marry. The first marriages of same sex couples in England & Wales took place on Saturday 29 March 2014.
Same sex couples who got married abroad under foreign law and who were consequently treated as civil partners in England & Wales, have been recognised as being married in England & Wales from Thursday 13 March 2014.
Marriages of same sex couples in some British consulates and armed forces bases overseas have been possible since 3 June 2014, and arrangements for marriages of same sex couples in military chapels are in place.
Civil partners who wish to convert their civil partnership into marriage will be able to do so from Wednesday 10 December 2014, subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary secondary legislation.
Marriages formed under the law of England & Wales (or marriages formed under the law of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom) will be allowed to continue where one or both parties change their legal gender and both parties wish to remain married, from Wednesday 10 December 2014, subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary secondary legislation.
Civil partnerships formed under the law of England & Wales will be able to continue where both parties change their legal gender simultaneously and wish to remain in their civil partnership, from Wednesday 10 December 2014, subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary secondary legislation.
Reviews required by the Act
On Thursday 26 June 2014, the Government published:
(a) reports on:
(b) a consultation on:
- whether non-religious belief organisations (such as Humanists) should be able to conduct legally valid marriage ceremonies.
- Read more information on giving notice of marriage
- Read more about differences between civil partnership and marriage for same sex couples.
- Read more detailed information about equal marriage, including a factsheet, mythbuster and legal analysis.
- Read documents relating to the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill through Parliament.
- See our simple equal marriage infographics.
- Read our equal marriage consultation and response.