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Marriage Equality (Partly) Arrives In Britain

Jim Burroway

March 13th, 2014

Today, registrars across England and Wales began accepting declarations of intent to marry from same-sex couples as major portions of the recently enacted same-sex marriage legislation went into effect at midnight. This means that the first weddings taking place in England and Wales will take place on March 29 following the required 15-day waiting period. There are exceptions to that waiting period:

The official guidance states: “The Registrar General can allow a marriage to take place without the normal 15-day notice period where one of the couple is seriously ill and is not expected to recover, and in other urgent cases such as where a person is due to be deployed overseas in the armed forces. Such marriages of same sex couples will be possible from Thursday, 13 March 2014.”

They won’t however been the first same-sex married couples in England and Wales. Couples who were married overseas got a head start in becoming legal spouses today as their marriages became legally recognized at the stroke of midnight.

Procedures for converting civil partnerships into marriage will be put in place later this year.

Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth II has given her Royal Assent to Scotland’s same-sex marriage law today. Same-sex marriages in Scotland will become legal sometime later this year.

Northern Ireland remains the only corner of the United Kingdom where there has been no movement on marriage equality. This is despite more than half of residents supporting same-sex marriage, with particularly strong support among Catholics.

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