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.”
Photo of Barnsley town hall by Tony via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence