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Kara Swift
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ONS releases provisional data on the number of same-sex marriages so far

Date:21 AUG 2014
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Senior Editor
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has released provisional data on the number of same-sex marriages that have taken place in England and Wales since the first ceremonies took place on 29 March 2014.

This is the first time that ONS has published provisional statistics on marriage of same-sex couples for England and Wales. These statistics cover quarters 1 and 2, 2014.

The Marriages (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 made provision for the marriage of same-sex couples in England and Wales, either in a civil ceremony (in a register office or approved premise such as a hotel) or on religious premises (provided that the religious organisation agrees). From 10 December 2014 civil partners are expected to be able to convert their civil partnership into a marriage.

James Brown, a Partner in the Family department at JMW Solicitors, said the data was in line with his experience of handling civil partnerships.

'The novelty and significance of marriage becoming available led to an initial rush among same-sex couples wanting to be among the very first to assume the same rights and protection afforded to heterosexual couples.

In the three months since, there has been a much more gradual increase and I would expect that pattern to continue at last for foreseeable future.

As with civil partnerships, it appears to be women who are attracted more to the idea of formalising same-sex relationships and they tend to do so at a younger age than men as well.

That might be because it provides them with stability in a relationship as they're reaching the average age at which women tend to have children.

Given that women have also been more active when it comes to dissolving civil partnerships, it stands to reason that we might see them in the majority when the first same-sex divorces can take place early next year.

What will be interesting to note is what happens in December, when those couples who had entered into civil partnerships can convert them into full marriages.

Even though they have the same protection in law, as regards how they might divide their assets when they separate, I would expect that the efforts historically put into trying to gain parity from a social standpoint might well cause a considerable number of civil partners to convert, further increasing the amount of same-sex marriages.'

Click here to view the provisional statistics.

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