Equal marriage becomes law

News from the Government Equalities Office, 17 July 2013

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has successfully completed its parliamentary passage and today received Royal Assent.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 will, for the first time, allow same sex couples to marry in England and Wales in a civil ceremony. It will also allow them to marry in a religious ceremony, where the religious organisation has opted in to such marriages and the minister of religion agrees.

The new legislation also reiterates the Government’s absolute commitment to religious freedom by ensuring that no religious organisation or individual minister can be forced to conduct same sex marriages.

It is noted that the Act now also includes requirement for the Secretary of State to arrange for a review of occupational pension scheme benefits provided to survivors of same sex and opposite sex couples in legal relationships, It is hoped that this review will take account of the circumstances of transgender people who were forced by law to dissolve their marriages before the present legislation was passed.

Information [PDF].

Lords Marriage Bill update

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has successfully completed its Committee stage in the House of Lords. The next stage in the parliamentary process is Lords Report stage, when Peers have a further opportunity to debate the Bill in the main chamber of the House of Lords. The report stage is scheduled to take place on:

Monday 8 and Wednesday 10 July.

Over three days of Committee, Peers vigorously debated the detailed provisions of the Bill, giving it clause by clause scrutiny. 65 non-Government amendments were tabled, none of which were voted on so they did not result in changes to the Bill.

Government amendments were made to the Bill to clarify that public discussion or criticism of marriage, as regards the sex of the parties to marriage, would not of itself amount to an offence of stirring up hatred because of sexual orientation under the Public Order Act 1986 and also to amend the definition of the governing authorities able to give consent to same sex marriages for those of the Jewish religion, to reflect the current arrangements for the Jewish community. A number of technical amendments were also made, intended to make the Bill work better without changing its effect.

More information [DCMS website].
Bill and timetable information [Parliament website].