Marriage certificates in England and Wales will now include the names of mothers of the newlyweds, not just the fathers. The change will be implemented from today, 4 May.
The Home Office said the decision would “correct a historic anomaly” and was one of “the biggest changes to the marriage registration system since 1837” as a new digital system is launched to modernise and speed up marriage registration. Marriages are currently registered at the ceremony itself - couples sign a register book, which is held at each register office, in churches and chapels, and at registered religious premises.
News that mothers will be listed on the new digitised certificates has been welcomed by feminists, who say that the change - while overdue - is much-needed.
Caroline Criado-Perez, who wrote the acclaimed book Invisible Women, exposing gender-based data biases, said on Twitter: "I’m so delighted by this. I’ve always said I wouldn’t get married until mothers are included on marriage certificates. It sat so wrong with me to willingly take part in the erasure of women. Anyway, the wedding’s on."
She also offered insight into the roots of why mothers were not previously included on marriages certificates. "Because naturally you are your father’s possession until you are transferred to your husband’s ownership. Your mother contributed nothing to your existence of course."
Welsh Labour MP Alex Davies Jones said: "When my husband & I got married we ensured that both our mothers were the ‘witnesses’ so that we would have both parents names on our marriage certificate. We shouldn’t have had to have done that and I’m glad that no other couple will."
Guardian reporter Rhiannon Cosslett explained that the news was "extra meaningful for anyone who has been raised in part or in total by a single mother, who has seen their mother struggle and fight and keep her shit together in the face of a huge amount of societal stigma, while undertaking the largely unpaid labour of care work."
"When you have been raised by a woman like that, with all the love and sacrifice and gratitude and friendship that relationship involves, not being able to place her name on such a vital historical and administrative document is a big kick in the teeth."
Kevin Foster, the minister for future borders and immigration, said: “These changes bring the registration process into the 21st century and means no parent will be missing on their child’s wedding day.”
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