Same sex marriages became legal in England and Wales on 29th March, 2014 at midnight.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force in July 2013 in England and Wales. Couples could register their intention from 13th March, 2014 onwards that legalises same-sex marriage starting 29th March, 2014.
Before, 29th March, same sex couples had the option of getting into a civil partnership that became legal in 2005 under the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
Legislation to allow same-sex marriage in Scotland was passed in February 2014 by the Scottish Parliament. The legislation received the Royal Assent on 12th March, 2014. The first same-sex marriage in Scotland will start in Autumn 2014.
The first couples in England and Wales
Peter McGraith and David Cabreza spent 17 years together before being among the first same sex couple to tie the knot in London on the night of 29th March. The wedding took place at Islington Town Hall. Human Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell acted as the chief witness to the ceremony.
Also vying for the title of the first same sex couple to wed in Britain were Andrew Wale and Neil Allard from Brighton.
David Cameron on gay marriages
“This weekend is an important moment for our country,” said British PM David Cameron on the PinkNews website. The rainbow flag flew above Whitehall today.
“I am proud that we have made same sex marriage happen. I am delighted that the love two people have for each other – and the commitment they want to make – can now be recognised as equal. I have backed this reform because I believe in commitment, responsibility and family. I don’t want to see people’s love divided by law,” said Cameron in July last year.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 preserves the Canon Law of the Church of England which states that marriage should take place between the opposite sex only. Queen Elizabeth who is the head of the Church of England gave her Royal Assent to the act on 17th July, 2013.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury said the Church had accepted the new law and would continue to demonstrate “the love of Christ for every human being”. However, same-sex marriages are not currently taking place in the Church of England.
Northern Island currently does not intend to legalise same-sex marriages.