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). The first marriages of same sex couples took place on 29 March 2014. From 10 December 2014 civil partners are expected to be able to convert their civil partnership into a marriage.
How many marriages have been formed between same sex couples?
A total of 1,409 marriages were formed between same sex couples between 29 March and 30 June 2014. Of these, 56% of marriages were to female couples (796 marriages) while 44% were to male couples (613 marriages). Over the three day period from 29 March to 31 March 2014 there were 95 marriages of same sex couples. There were 351 marriages in April, 465 in May and 498 in June (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Number of marriages of same sex couples by month, 29 March to 30 June 2014
England and Wales
- The first marriages of same sex couples took place on 29 March 2014.
- Figures are provisional
What was the average age at marriage for men and women?
The average (mean) age at marriage for women was 37.0 years, slightly lower than the male mean age of 38.6 years. There were more women than men marrying at younger ages, particularly at ages 25 to 29 and 30 to 34 where 63% and 60% of those marrying were female (Figure 2). From age 55 slightly more men than women married with the exception of age 65 and over where equal numbers of men and women married. The greatest number of men and women marrying were aged 30 to 34 with 220 and 330 marriages respectively.
Figure 2: Number of people marrying by sex and age, 29 March to 30 June 2014
England and Wales
- Figures are provisional.
What was the marital status before marriage?
The majority of men and women marrying had never been married or in a civil partnership before (91% of males and 79% of females). Women were more likely than men to have previously been in a civil partnership or marriage that ended in dissolution or divorce (9% of men, 20% of women). A very small percentage of marriages took place for men and women whose previous marriage or civil partnership had ended with the death of their partner (0.5% of men and 0.9% of women).
How do same sex marriage statistics compare with civil partnerships?
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005, enabling same sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship. The first day that couples could normally form a partnership was 21 December 2005 in England and Wales. Between 21 December and 23 December 2005, 1,227 civil partnerships were formed, as couples in long-standing relationships formalised their relationship as soon as possible. In comparison 95 marriages of same sex couples took place in the first 3 days.
The early uptake of marriages of same sex couples is lower than the uptake of civil partnerships, possibly because before the introduction of civil partnerships there was no other option for same sex couples to formalise their relationships. Over the first quarter following the introduction of civil partnerships, two thirds (66%) of partnerships were between males. In contrast, 44% of marriages to same sex couples between 29 March and 30 June 2014 were between males.
What is the future of civil partnerships?
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 enabled same sex couples in England and Wales to obtain legal recognition of their relationship by registering as civil partners of each other. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 enabled same sex couples in England and Wales to marry from 29 March 2014. It also has a number of related provisions, including for those in a civil partnership to convert that relationship to a marriage if they choose to do so and provisions that will enable a person to change their legal gender without ending their existing marriage. These other provisions are expected to come into force on 10 December 2014, subject to parliamentary approval. The Act does not remove the availability of civil partnerships for same sex couples.
The Government Equalities Office carried out a review of the future of civil partnerships in England and Wales including a full public consultation which ran between 23 January and 17 April 2014. They received over 10,000 responses to the consultation.
Several important organisations thought it was too soon to consider making changes to civil partnership legislation - this should wait until the impact of extending marriage to same sex couples is known. Other organisations, in contrast, put forward a case for opening up civil partnerships to opposite sex couples now, for example because civil partnership and marriage were different relationships and all couples should have equal access to both.
Given the lack of consensus on the way forward, the Government will not be making any changes to the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
Where can I find out more about marriage statistics?
If you would like to find out more about the latest marriage and civil partnership statistics from ONS, please see our latest releases. If you have any comments or suggestions to make about these statistics, we would like to hear them. Please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Marriages (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 will enable civil partners to convert their civil partnership into a marriage, subject to parliamentary approval, where the civil partnership was registered in England and Wales, or overseas at a consulate or Armed Forces base where the couple elected England and Wales as the relevant law for the registration.