Same Sex Couples
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force on 13 March 2014. As a result same sex couples can now marry either in a civil ceremony or religious ceremony, where the religious body has chosen to permit same sex marriage on its premises. The first ceremonies took place on Saturday 29 March 2014.
Same sex couples who were married abroad under foreign law, who were consequently treated as civil partners in England & Wales, are now recognised as being married in England & Wales.
What the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act does
According to the government, the Act:
- 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
- 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
The rights and responsibilities of couples in same sex marriages are similar to those in opposite sex marriages. The breakdown of these relationships is treated broadly the same as opposite sex marriages. The ground of adultery for divorce purposes can only be used, however, where there has been sexual conduct between people of the opposite sex.
A summary of the differences between civil partnership and same sex marriage is available on the Department for Culture, Media & Sport’s website.