The final step to marriage equality takes place on Wednesday 10 December 2014. This is the date when anyone in a civil partnership can convert to a marriage if they choose to do so.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act came into effect at the start of the year, on Saturday 29 March 2014. However at that time there was no legal way for couples in civil partnerships to be married. This inequality will be rectified when conversions begin this December.
Brighton & Hove City Council Register Office is already seeing a high level of interest from couples booking to convert from civil partnership to marriage. There are already more than a dozen couples booked to convert on the first day the law allows.
Conversion is quick and easy to do. Couples book an appointment to meet with a registrar to confirm they would like to be married. The registrar needs to see their civil partnership certificate, proof of identification and carry out a brief interview before a new marriage certificate can be issued. The full details of the conversions process will be available nearer the time.
Cllr Ollie Sykes, lead councillor for city services, said: “The first same sex marriage in Brighton & Hove at the Royal Pavilion in March was a wonderful occasion for the happy couple and the city. Amid the celebrations of this historic milestone in equality, the wait for couples already in civil partnerships to be able to marry continued. The introduction of conversions cannot come too soon. By the end of 2014 the law will enable marriage equality for all.”
The Government has waived the conversion fees for couples who entered a civil partnership before equal marriage was possible. The fee waiver is available for the first year of conversions until 9 December 2015 and only available to couples who entered a civil partnership before 29 March 2014. The Government will cover the costs for a couple to meet with a registrar to convert their civil partnership into a marriage. However a new marriage certificate is not provided by the Government funding and will cost £4 per certificate.
There is no legal ceremony as part the conversion process. However Brighton and Hove are planning to offer couples the opportunity to mark their conversion from civil partnership to marriage with an optional celebratory conversion ceremony. The conversion ceremony will give couples the chance to make vows to each other in front of friends and family at any point after the legal conversion has taken place. The conversion ceremony has no legal standing. Instead the occasion is about a couple sharing their happy news in the company of their loved ones with a registrar conducting the ceremony. The cost of a conversion ceremony will be the same as the fees for renewal of vows, details are available at www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/renewal-vows-ceremonies
Details of the process for converting a civil partnership to a marriage are available here: www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/civil-partnership-conversion
Information on ceremony bookings is available online or call 01273 292016
Couples do not need to return to the register office where they entered their civil partnership for a conversion, any register office can help couples in civil partnerships looking to become married from this December.