New statistics show almost 1,500 same sex marriages took place in the first three months of legalisation.
The latest statistical bulletin from the Office for National Statistics shows that in the first three months after it was legalised, almost 1,500 couples wed in same sex marriages England and Wales.
Between 29th March and 30th June 2014 1,409 couples formed same sex unions – and just like ‘traditional’ marriages, June proved to the be the most popular month: 498 same sex couples tied the knot in June alone.
Of the 1,409 couples getting hitched, 56% were female couples and 44% were male.
You can find the full set of ONS data here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/marriages-in-england-and-wales–provisional-/for-same-sex-couples-q1-and-q2-2014/sty-same-sex-marriages.html
95 same sex marriages took place in the three days after the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act came into force. In the first three days after civil partnerships were permitted 1,227 ceremonies took place. The reason for the limited appetite for marriage in the initial days could be down to the fact that the introduction of civil partnerships represented the first opportunity for same sex couples to formalise their relationship in legal terms. Many couples in a similar situation in 2014 will already be civil partners meaning that initial figures for same sex marriages are lower. Those who wish to convert their civil partnership to a same sex marriage from 10 December 2014.
Controversial process to convert civil partnership to same sex marriage
However the conversion process has been widely criticised for being mechanical and lacking “heart”. Couples in a civil partnership are to present themselves at a Register Office, and under government proposals will be presented with a conversion certificate rather than a marriage certificate. The process will be carried out free of charge in the first year and involves no formal ceremony. Campaigner Jakki Livesey-van Dorst has launched a widely-supported petition urging the government to rethink the conversion process.
Ms Livesey-van Dorst has said: “We are not allowed all the things that make a marriage special; being surrounded by friends and family, choosing a venue of meaning, having a ceremony, and being issued with a marriage certificate. The rules don’t allow for any of it. It is a desk based exercise, with just us and the Registrar.”
There are also concerns that a certificate of conversion will not be recognised by foreign authorities in the same way as a marriage certificate would be.
Time will tell whether the government reconsiders its proposed steps for converting an existing civil partnership to a same sex marriage.
If you are considering a same sex marriage or are thinking of converting your civil partnership to a same sex marriage then our solicitors can advise you. We can also provide advice on divorce/dissolution, finances including pre- and post-nuptial agreements, property and child law in the context of same sex relationships. Contact us for more information.