Writing for PinkNews.co.uk, Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, says she understands that many couples in civil partnerships are frustrated at the delay in converting them to marriages.
Tomorrow Saturday 29 March - will go down in British history as same-sex couples up and down the country are finally able to tie the knot. It has been a journey getting to this point and I’d like to say congratulations to all the couples getting married and wish them well as they enter married life together.
Marriage is a truly wonderful institution. I remember my wedding day clearly; the mix of nerves and excitement. It was a wonderful day and a memory I will always treasure. I know that many couples have been waiting for this day for a long time and to be able to demonstrate their commitment to each other through marriage, surrounded by their friends and family.
The principles of marriage underpin our society and, as society has evolved, so too has marriage. So, far from devaluing it, as some critics have said, in my view the extension of marriage to same-sex couples will strengthen it and ensure it remains as relevant and vibrant as it ever was.
I’m very much aware that there are couples who are already in a civil partnership and who may be disappointed that they will have to wait a little longer to be able to convert to a marriage. I’d like to reassure them that we are working hard to ensure that this process is in place by the end of year. It’s taking longer because we need to introduce completely new procedures and processes. This contrasts with the work to make new marriages for same-sex couples possible, where we have been able to build on existing processes so implementation is much more straightforward. I didn’t think we should delay the first marriages of same-sex couples from happening just because civil partnership conversions can’t happen as quickly.
As the first marriages take place we should remember that a huge amount of work has gone into making it possible and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved.
Saturday will be a day of celebration for many. It will resonate in many people’s lives and it signifies a huge achievement – for equality and for fairness and I am very proud to have been the Conservative Secretary of State that took it through Parliament and to have been part of the Government that enabled this to happen.
Maria Miller is the Culture Secretary and the Minister for Women and Equalities.