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LONDON (AP) - Save the date: The British government announced Tuesday that the country's first same-sex weddings can be held on Saturday, March 29.
Equalities Minister Maria Miller said from then on marriage "will be open to everyone, irrespective of whether they fall in love with someone of the same sex or opposite sex."
"This is just another step in the evolution of marriage and I know that many couples up and down the country will be hugely excited that they can now plan for their big day and demonstrate their love and commitment to each other by getting married," she said.
Parliament legalized same-sex marriage in England and Wales in July, with the backing of the leaders of the three main political parties.
Gay couples will be able to get married in civil ceremonies, and in religious services from orders that authorize it _ though the country's main Protestant order, the Church of England, is split on the issue and is barred from marrying gay couples.
Miller said same-sex couples in civil partnerships, which have been legal since 2005, will be able to convert their relationship to marriage by the end of next year.
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