Gay couple told they must wait to marry–unless they end their civil partnership first

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March 29, 2014 will mark the first day gay couples will legally be able to marry in England and Wales—but in a strange legal twist, those already in a civil partnership may have to wait a few additional months to be married.

GayStarNews reported that Paul and Michael Atwal-Brice, a gay couple, were distraught after finding out they had to dissolve their civil partnership if they wanted to marry on March 29.

According to the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport, the delay is because their computer systems still need to be updated to allow compatibility with the current law, even though it was formally passed in July 2013 and known to be a possibility long before that.

The couple, who are the fathers of two adopted autistic identical twin boys, told GayStarNews it was “so important for us to be part of history.”

They explained, “As a family, we face many challenges. We have to fight for everything,” and to have to “fight to get married on the 29th is absolutely appalling. To be told you have to basically separate from each other.”

The couple have already planned their wedding, to which they hope to invite fifty disabled children and their families.

They also intend for guests to donate money to disability charity Caudwell Children instead of giving the couple wedding gifts.

One of the main issues with having to dissolve their civil partnership is that they must go to court and present a valid reason. “Wanting to stay together and be married is hardly a valid reason to dissolve a civil partnership,” said Atwal-Brice.

He added that separating also leaves them “in a legal turmoil. Legally we’re not each other’s next of kin if that happens.”

They stated that they intend to take legal action to challenge the ruling.

If they do not dissolve their partnership they will have to wait until later in 2014 to marry.

429Magazine

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