The first statistics on same-sex marriage are out, showing around 1,400 weddings took place in the first three months of the new law coming into effect for Wales and England.
The majority of men and women marrying had never been married or in a civil partnership before (the ONS notes that this is the case for 91% of male couples and 79% of female couples). Marriage appears to be slightly more popular with women than with men – 56% of same-sex couples are women.
There were 95 same-sex marriages in the first three days, and numbers have grown slightly each month. This is probably more to do with the weather than anything else.
The government anticipated around 6,000 same-sex weddings a year, which it appears will be the case.
The 120,000 or so people in civil partnerships will have the option of converting their union to a marriage from 10 December, and same-sex marriage ceremonies will start in Scotland later this year.
Irish ‘prime minister’, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has announced that a referendum over whether to allow same-sex marriage will be held in the spring of 2015.
He made the statement in the Dáil yesterday evening. Most countries which have introduced same-sex marriage have not used referenda but made the subject a vote of elected parliamentarians.
Enda has previously said that his government would campaign for same-sex marriage in such a referendum.
Same-sex marriages have started to be held in Wales and England, and will begin to be conducted in Scotland later this year. However in Northern Ireland the Stormont Assembly has blocked them in three separate votes over the last two years.
The government has announced that the fee for converting an existing civil partnership to a same-sex marriage will be £45.
However for the first 12 months – starting on December 10th, when the conversion process will become available – it will be free.
As part of the Marriage Act, there a review has been launched today by the Government into whether to allow non-religious belief organisations, such as humanists, to perform marriage ceremonies in Wales and England.
The review would be made in line with Section 14 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, which at present defines a belief organisation as ‘an organisation whose principal or sole purpose is the advancement of a system of non-religious beliefs which relate to morality or ethics’.
The consultation also seeks views on
- which non-religious belief organisations are capable of meeting the definition
- where, if allowed, such marriages would take place
- the provision of safeguards to deal with any resulting risks
- the equality impacts.
Click here to read & take part in the consultation.
The government has announced the date from which existing Civil Partnerships may be converted to marriages.
The provision – one of the outstanding items from the Same-Sex Marriage Act – will come into effect from 10th December. As yet it is not clear what the process or cost will be – there is widely expected to be some basic administration fee but there may be further requirements.
However, despite the recent consultation on mixed-sex civil partnerships, government minister Sajid Javid MP has now said that there will be no legislation to open up civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples.
It would seem unlikely that this can now happen before the 2015 General Election: while the Lib Dems have pressed for it as a matter of equality, most Conservative MPs remain opposed to the measure, and Labour blocked mixed-sex civil partnerships when they were in power.