The British government announced on Tuesday, December 10 that the first same-sex marriages in England and Wales will take place on March 29, 2014.
When the bill was first passed, ceremonies were planned to begin early next summer. Instead, couples hoping to be married as soon as possible are to give formal notice by March 13, several months earlier than expected.
Previously, same-sex couples were only offered civil partnerships, making the same-sex unions coming up in March the first to take place within religious organizations.
Amongst those religious organizations, Liberal and Reform Synagogues, Quakers and Unitarian churches have all said they will perform same-sex ceremonies.
Equalities Minister Maria Miller said, “Marriage is one of our most important institutions, and from March 29, 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.”
As well as the first same-sex marriages taking place, couples that married abroad previously who are currently recognized in the UK as civil partners will be properly acknowledged as married.
However, those hoping to marry in armed forces bases overseas, military chapels and some British consulates will have to wait until June.
Miller has also said that she would work hard to ensure that married people hoping to change their legal gender and couples wanting to change their civil partnerships into marriages will be able to do so before the end of 2014.
According to Pink News, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg added to Miller’s announcement, “This is the news many couples have been waiting for. After a long and important battle, this is a wonderful step forward for equality. Love is the same, gay or straight, so it’s only right that the civil institution should be the same. Next March will be a real moment for celebration as same-sex couples finally get the chance to express their love through marriage.”