Starting one minute after midnight, March 29th GMT, same-sex couples in England and Wales will be able to have their unions recognised as marriages. Previously same-sex couples could only enter into a civil union which conferred the same rights as marriage but was viewed as the government marking out which unions were preferable. Scotland will follow in the autumn.
Although the English/Welsh law was passed back in July legalising same-sex marriage, the unions are only allowed to be performed now. Prime Minister David Cameron issued a statement celebrating the upcoming ceremonies:
For the first time, the couples getting married won't just include men and women - but men and men, and women and women. When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change.
In Northern Ireland, however, same-sex marriage has not been passed and is not legal. Northern Ireland and Scotland have a system of government known as "devolution" which allows them their own parliaments. Therefore, it is inaccurate to report (as some have reported) that marriage equality has come to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the full title, and marriage equality has only come to a part of Great Britain, as Scottish same-sex marriages will not be performed for several months.
Cheers, England! Huzzah, Wales!
Image via Samot/Shutterstock.