Minister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller, writes for PinkNews on the day that the timetable was announced for introducing equal marriage in England and Wales, to thank all of those involved in the process.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced today that the first same-sex weddings will take place on 29 March 2014.

We’ve been on quite a journey –  From the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, the completion of its passage through Parliament, and now the announcement that the first same sex weddings will be able to happen as of from 29 March next year.

This is just another step in the evolution of marriage, it is one of our most important institutions, and from March it will be open to everyone, irrespective of whether they fall in love with someone of the same or opposite sex.

But while this legislation may be about marriage, its impact is so much wider. Marriage is one of the building blocks of our society, promoting stability and commitment. Making marriage available to all couples demonstrates the importance of those building blocks and our society’s respect for all individuals regardless of their sexuality. It says so much about the society that we are and the society that we want to live in.

I know that many couples up and down the country want to demonstrate their love and commitment to each other by getting married and will be excited that they can now plan for their big day

But all this would not have been possible without the help of many of my colleagues across Government who have been working hard to ensure that all the necessary arrangements are all in place. This is no mean feat and I would like to thank everyone for making this happen. All this hard work has meant that the first weddings can now happen much earlier than anticipated.

This is a historic moment that will resonate in many people’s lives –and I am proud that we have made it happen and I am very much looking forward to the first same sex wedding celebrations next year.

Maria Miller is the Culture Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality