Posted by Patrick Hart, Partner
On 1 September 2016 Withy King LLP merged with Royds LLP. The trading name for the merged firm is Royds Withy King. All content produced prior to this date will remain in the name of the firms pre-merger.
First lot of same-sex marriage figures are released
The first set of official figures show that more than 15,000 same-sex marriages have taken place in England and Wales.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that 7,366 couples had entered a union for the first time, while the remainder had taken the opportunity to convert their civil partnerships.
Same-sex marriages became legal on March 29th last year, around eight months after legislation was passed by the Coalition Government.
Peter McGraith wed his long-term partner David Cabreza within minutes of the law taking effect and spoke to the BBC about the impact of the change.
“Gay men and lesbians don’t want to be defined or constrained by notions of ‘traditional’ marriage, but the introduction of marriage equality around the world is a signifier of a kind of progress for sexual minorities,” he said.
Similar legislation was introduced in Scotland at the end of last year and the Republic of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to amend its constitution in a referendum a few months ago.
Northern Ireland is now the only part of the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage has not been enshrined in law, although a recent poll suggests that public opinion has swung firmly in favour of change.
As was widely predicted, the introduction of gay marriage has seen a sharp decline in the number of same-sex couples now choosing to enter civil partnerships – which have fallen by 70 per cent since 2013.
Debate about the future of the partnerships is ongoing, with ministers understood to be looking at several options.
One idea is to phase out the ceremonies, introduced a decade ago, and look at legislation to automatically convert the existing partnerships to marriages.
On the other hand, some campaigners are in favour of retaining them as an alternative to same-sex marriage, or even extending them to straight couples – a notion which was debated in the House of Commons this week.
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