Gay couples who took advantage of marriage equality overseas will be recognised as married from Thursday 13 March 2014.

Just as with civil partnerships, where at least one partner is terminally ill, same-sex couples will be able to apply to marry from this date too. However as explained below, this will not apply to couples already in a civil partnership.

On 5 December 2005, the first civil partnership in England and Wales took place between Matthew Roche and Christopher Cramp in Worthing, East Sussex. In their case the usual 15-day waiting period was waived as Mr Roche was suffering from a terminal illness. He died the following day.

The official guidance states: “The Registrar General can allow a marriage to take place without the normal 15-day notice period where one of the couple is seriously ill and is not expected to recover, and in other urgent cases such as where a person is due to be deployed overseas in the armed forces. Such marriages of same sex couples will be possible from Thursday, 13 March 2014.”

Before the first civil partnerships, the survivor of a same-sex relationship could face inheritance tax liabilities on the death of their partner, that they would not have faced if they were hetrosexual.

Same-sex couples in civil partnerships cannot get married until an as yet unspecified date later this year. Tragically, this will mean that terminally ill couples who are in a civil partnership, may never be able to marry.

Yesterday, the government opened up a consultation on the future of civil partnerships. It is considering opening them up to straight couples, abolishing the institution or grandfathering them, meaning no new civil partnerships can be registered.

The first same-sex weddings where a partner is not terminally ill will be taking place on 29 March 2014, the birthday of anti-gay rights politician Norman Tebbit.

H/T to Jim Waterson of BuzzFeed who alerted us to publication of the Statutory Instrument