SAME-SEX couples will be able to convert their civil
partnerships into marriages in a ceremony at a religious venue,
after revised guidelines were laid before Parliament.
The Government announced the altered guidelines after thousands
of people signed a petition calling for couples converting their
partnerships to marriage to be allowed a wedding ceremony.
The original guidelines had allowed for only a simple conversion
to take place in a register office with a Superintendent Registrar
present (News, 1 August).
The Government said that the "landmark change" would allow
couples in existing civil partnerships to convert them into a
marriage from 10 December this year, and celebrate with a ceremony
in a venue of their choice.
Couples will be issued with a marriage certificate, which will
show that the marriage should be treated as existing from the date
of the original civil partnership.
The Minister for Skills and Equalities, Nick Boles, said: "I
know how important it is for couples to have the option of marriage
available to them. This is the final stage in ensuring every couple
has the option to be married.
"This puts couples in control. They have the choice of whether
they would like a simple conversion, or would prefer to celebrate
the occasion with a ceremony."
Only religious premises registered for marriages of same-sex
couples will be allowed to participate. Mr Boles said that the
amended guidelines did not affect the protections enshrined in the
Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, which protects the Church of
England and other faith groups from being forced to solemnise