PinkNews Exclusive
The Government today will announce that the first date couples already in civil partnerships can convert to marriage will be 10 December 2014, but that civil partnerships will not be extended to include straight couples.

A senior Government source told PinkNews that the much anticipated announcement will be made later today.

PinkNews understands that along with the announcement of the conversion date, the Government will also reveal that civil partnerships will not be extended to straight couples.

Despite that the Lib Dems passed a policy supporting equal marriage and equal civil partnerships for all couples straight or gay at its 2010 Party Conference, following a public consultation into the future of civil partnerships, it appears that civil partnerships will remain for gay couples, and those who wish to convert to marriage will need to actively do so.

The new situation will mean gay couples have the choice between a marriage or a civil partnership, and straight couples will only be able to get married.

PinkNews publisher Benjamin Cohen, who led the Out4Marriage campaign said: “Many couples in civil partnerships were left puzzled why they were banned from entering into a marriage when the first same-sex weddings in England and Wales took place on the 29th March of this year. Today’s news means that they can now plan the celebrations of their love in confidence, knowing that as of the 10th December, all couples, regardless of gender, will have the right to marry.”

A day before same-sex marriage took effect in England and Wales, Labour’s shadow Equalities Minister Gloria De Piero wrote an open letter to Maria Miller, then Culture Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, to urge her to “publish a clear timetable” for the changes to be made, in order to allow those in civil partnerships to convert.

“It is unclear why these provisions are taking so long to implement”, she wrote.

Since, Maria Miller’s replacement, Mr Javid, responded, but despite criticism for the length of time it is taking for the new procedures to be put in place, previously did not give a guarantee that those in civil partnerships would be able to convert by the end of the year.

A Government consultation into the future of civil partnerships closed in April.

A straight couple from London in March  announced their engagement, but said that they would get civilly partnered rather than married, in order to push for full marriage equality.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell repeatedly called for the coalition’s equal marriage plans to include civil partnerships for heterosexuals.

He criticised then Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller, for ruling out the measure during the same-sex marriage debate.