Same sex couples currently in civil partnerships will be able to convert these into marriages by the end of this year, the government has confirmed.
Equalities Minister Helen Grant made the announcement to a House of Commons committee which is examining the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act.
However, any religious organisations involved in planned ceremonies, such as churches, will have to give their permission, she stressed.
The first same sex weddings, for couples not already in civil partnerships, will take place on March 29.
The committee debated some final technical amendments to the legislation , Pink News reports. These included the registration of same sex marriages in religious premises used by more than one organisation, and the terminology used in shared pension schemes.
The committee includes opponents of same sex marriage, such as Tory MPs Tim Loughton and Sir Edward Leigh.
Meanwhile ,the government has launched a consultation on the future of civil partnerships.
The closing date for responses to the Civil Partnership Review is 17 April.
Photo by Archie McPhee via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence