Nick Clegg: Same-sex marriage sends a message of LGBT solidarity around the world

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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has congratulated same-sex couples converting their civil partnerships to marriage today and in the future.

From today, all couples have the right to marry in England and Wales, as the first civil partnership conversion ceremonies take place. 

Mr Clegg told PinkNews that he hoped that the legislation in England and Wales would “send a message of solidarity”, and that he was proud that same-sex couples can now marry.

“I am proud that couples can finally convert their civil partnerships to marriage. Today is another celebration for LGBT rights in this country, but as ever it’s a reminder that there are people across the world living under much less fortunate conditions, facing discrimination and persecution on a daily basis.

“So as we raise a glass to those making their vows, we send a message of solidarity to LGBT people everywhere,” he told PinkNews.

When the first same-sex marriages took place on 29 March 2014, couples who were already in a civil partnership were not allowed to marry.

Now, same-sex couples already in a civil partnership can decide if they wish to remain in this legal status or convert to a marriage. Couples already in civil partnerships may opt for a simple conversion at a register office, or a two-stage process, which includes a ceremony at a venue of their choice.

Writing for PinkNews, Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan and Skills and Equalities Minister Nick Boles Marriage said: “Marriage is a universal institution which should be available to all. It is the bedrock of our society and the most powerful expression of commitment that two people can make. While civil partnerships remain an important part of the journey towards legal equality, it is entirely understandable why so many same-sex couples want to be able to enter into the institution of marriage and express their love in the same way as their peers.”

The first same-sex marriages in Scotland take place on New Year’s Eve. Same-sex marriage will remain illegal in Northern Ireland.