UK Government: Those in civil partnerships will be able to convert to marriages by end of year

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Equalities Minister Helen Grant has confirmed that same-sex couples who are in civil partnerships in England and Wales will be able to convert them to marriages by the end of 2014.

Mrs Grant made the remarks on Tuesday morning in front of a House of Commons committee that is looking at implementation of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act.

The committee, made up of pro and anti-equal marriage MPs, has been debating a final set of technical measures, such as the registration of same-sex marriages in shared religious premises, and other changes to existing legislation as a result of the law.

Amendments passed this morning included the recognition of same-sex marriages registered overseas and changes to occupational pension schemes regarding terminology – not addressing the existing imbalance in civil partnership contributions.

Regulations governing the registration of same-sex marriages in shared religious premises were also passed.

Mrs Grant stressed that ceremonies could only take place if permission was granted from all faith groups involved

During proceedings Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh – a key opponent of equal marriage and LGBT rights in general – claimed that every marriage was now being redefined.

He said: “Same-sex marriage is not traditional marriage”.

Tory MP Tim Loughton also complained about the lack of consultation over the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act.

The former children’s minister has been a long-term critic of the reform.

In December last year, Mr Loughton described the government’s handling of the policy as “rather crass and clumsily” executed.

Mr Loughton was among 128 Conservative MPs to vote against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act at third reading in May 2013. 

The UK Government launched a consultation into the future of civil partnerships last month.

The first same-sex marriages in England and Wales will take place on Saturday 29 March.