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Same-sex weddings are the "icing on the cake"
The first same-sex weddings can take place from March 29 next year – branded “the icing on the cake” by a Brighton couple.
Equalities minister Maria Miller announced yesterday that gay couples in England and Wales would be legally allowed to tie the knot.
The March date is earlier than anticipated, with the start date originally expected to be in the summer.
After 14 years as a couple, Roger Lewis and Keith Willmott-Goodall were one of the first couples in the country to register their intention to form a civil partnership at Brighton Town Hall eight years ago.
Mr Lewis, 65, said: “Well I think it’s a very good thing that people would be able to get married – it really is the icing on the cake.
“We have been fighting for this for some time and hopefully it’s going to prove very popular.
“However, it’s not something that Keith and I will be looking to do because the civil partnership was a big thing for us.
“But having said that, I would encourage as many couples as possible to do it.
“For years now, civil partners living together have been looking for a way to protect their house when they die or whatever and protect each other.
“This announcement has secured that and it’s just the icing on the cake.”
The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act was passed in July and couples wishing to be among the first to marry can formally give notice of their intention to marry from March 13.
Ms Miller said: “Marriage is one of our most important institutions, and from March 29, 2014, it will be open to everyone, irrespective of whether they fall in love with someone of the same sex or opposite sex.
“This is just another step in the evolution of marriage and I know that many couples up and down the country will be hugely excited that they can now plan for their big day and demonstrate their love and commitment to each other by getting married.”
Ms Miller said she was “working hard” to ensure that couples wishing to convert civil partnerships into marriages – and married people wanting to change their legal gender while remaining married – will be able to do so before the end of next year.
Same-sex couples who married abroad under foreign law and are currently treated as civil partners will be recognised as being married in England and Wales from March 2014.
Those wishing to take part in same-sex weddings in some British consulates and armed forces bases overseas or in mili- tary chapels will have to wait until June.
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