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Civil partners seek judicial review of gay marriage conversion delay

A same sex couple in Barnsley are to seek a judicial review of the government’s decision to delay marriage for civil partners.

Gay marriage was legalised in England and Wales last summer and the first ceremonies will take place on March 29. However, couples who are already in civil partnerships will not be able convert these into marriages until later in the year.

Paul and Michael Atwal-Brice entered a civil partnership in 2008 and were initially pleased by the government’s announcement that same sex same marriage ceremonies would begin this spring.

Paul Atwal-Brice told the BBC:

When the government brought this same-sex marriage act out for the 29 March we were thrilled. We started planning for the day, spoke to the registry office and this unfortunately is where we came across a huge bombshell – the fact that we couldn’t get married.”

The couple decided they had  “waited long enough” and informed the Department for Culture, Media and Sport that they plan to seek a judicial review of its current failure to bring section nine of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act into force. This states that:

“The parties to an England and Wales civil partnership may convert their civil partnership into a marriage under a procedure established by regulations made by the Secretary of State.”

A spokesman for the Department said the government hoped to enable civil partnership conversion by the end of the year.

“It will take a little longer because we need to introduce completely new procedures and processes. This contrasts with the work to make new marriages for same sex couples possible, where we have been able to build on existing processes, so implementation is more straightforward.”

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  1. Andrew says:

    Just impatient. Do they think there is nothing else to attend to? This won’t even get on until the delay is entirely or nearly over.

  2. Andy Dale says:

    Impatient,I should think so.having waited 6o years for this myself ,the least the govt.can do is get the timing right.
    delighted to have this legislation in place of course but it would be a shame if all the good work is damaged because the authorities cant get their procedures together at the same time!

  3. Phil says:

    The delay, whilst understandable, is a little frustrating for us, as a mature professional male couple. My civil partner is American. We were effectively ‘ethnically cleansed’ from the US for being gay – I lived there for 16 years. We have been together 20 years. We registered our civil partnership in the UK in 2006. We are ready to move back to the US but until the Feds struck down DOMA last yuear, it has not been possible. Even now, the US govt. recognizes marriage, not civil partnerships. So, we have to get our civil partnership converted into marriage. Finding out that gay marriage is available in March was good news – but finding out, a few months on, that the conversion process will be almost a year later, was not so good. If this news had come out at the same time it may have been a little easier to digest. After having waited for the US to see sense for 20 years, we’re now effectively waiting yet another year. Understandable? Yes, to a point. Frustrating? Of course it is.

  4. Tom says:

    This is so so dumb, why would’t the government allow them to be in a civil partnership and married at same time like California and other states in America, I mean is not like they are marrying different people.
    Also why would it take so long for them to be able to “convert” CPs into marriage, I mean let’s be honest it’s a contract a simple piece of paper.

  5. craig says:

    Phil, my partner and I are in the exact same position. My partner has been offered a job in the a US, but as you say they do not acknowledge our civil partnership. If the gov don’t hurry up we were considering getting married in the US, not sure about the rules around this, but if the US don’t acknowledge our partnership then I can’t see any reason why we couldn’t marry over there.

  6. Luke says:

    I understand the frustration but frankly the problem is with the USA, not with the UK. If people cannot wait a few months then talk to the USA about it.
    I hope the judicial review is denied – it’s a waste of time and money.

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