Why would a same sex couple want to marry or convert their partnership to a marriage?
There are several advantages; marriages can be conducted through either a civil ceremony or a religious ceremony (if the religious organisation has solemnised marriages of same-sex couples) whereas a civil partnership is entirely a civil event with no religious aspect to it.
For many marriage holds an emotional resonance which may not be apparent with a civil partnership.
In some countries, same-sex marriages are legal and civil partnerships are not given the same status as a marriage which may be a consideration if you were thinking of living abroad with your partner.
Since civil partnerships are only available to those in same sex relationships, when completing official form ticking the ‘civil partnerships’ shows that you are with a partner of the same sex, whereas if you tick the box which states that you are married, that could mean you are in either in a same sex or an opposite sex relationship.
If you are thinking of converting, how and when can civil partners convert to a same sex marriage?
If you registered your civil partnership in England and Wales [or oversees in a consulate or armed forces base] before 29 March 2014, when same sex marriages came into force, you can convert your civil partnership to a marriage from 10 December 2014. The advantage of going through the conversion process in the first year is that you do not have to pay the £45 fee. After 9 December 2015, the fee is payable even if you registered before 29 March 2014.
So what do you need to do to convert?
- You can convert your civil partnership into a marriage at a different Registry Office to the one you registered your civil partnership in
- Both you and your partner must attend an appointment, in person
- You will both need proof of identity
- You will both need proof of address
- You will also need proof of your civil partnership registration
- You and your partner will then sign a declaration that you have not dissolved the civil partnership and that you both would like to convert it to a marriage. The conversion is then complete
- The declaration must be signed at the Registry Office
- The conversion will be registered and a certificate of conversion issued
(There is also a possibility that a superintendent registrar may interview each partner.)
The marriage will be backdated to when you entered into the civil partnership, which I am sure will come as a relief for those who have difficulty remembering significant dates.
There is no official ceremony attached to the conversion but that should not stop you from having a celebration to mark this important occasion.