Ministers have backed calls for mothers’ names to be put on marriage certificates in England and Wales.
The Home Office said it will support a private member’s bill, which aims to modernise marriage registration for the first time since 1837.
If passed, it would allow the names of both parents of the couple to be included on marriage certificates – instead of just those of their fathers.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd says the move will modernise an outdated system.
MPs from all parties have spent several years attempting to bring about a change in the law to allow both parents to have their names and occupations recorded.
Their campaign received the backing of former Prime Minister David Cameron, who pledged to address this “inequality in marriage” – but he was gone from Downing Street before any action could be taken.
The move would bring England and Wales into line with the rest of the UK. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, couples are asked to give the names of both parents on marriage documentation. The same applies for those entering a civil partnership.
On Friday, the Home Office said it would back Tory MP Tim Loughton’s Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill, which also modernises the process of marriage registration away from a solely paper-based system.
Amber Rudd said: “A marriage is not just a major event for the couple but also in the life of any parent – and it is only right that all parents have the opportunity to have their names included on marriage certificates.
“The current legislation which only allows for fathers’ names is completely outdated and does not reflect modern Britain.
“There are around 250,000 marriages every year. It is about time that there are equal rights and recognition when it comes to registering a child’s marriage.”
The changes would mean that marriage entries – currently stored in 84,000 hard copy marriage registers – would be held in a single electronic register, which the Home Office says could result in savings of £33.8m over 10 years.
Mr Loughton’s bill also calls for heterosexual co-habiting partners to be allowed to form civil partnerships – in the same way as gay couples – a move the government has pledged to review.
The MP said it was “not fair” that opposite sex couples have “the single option of marriage”.
Mr Loughton also urged the registration of stillbirths delivered before the required 24-week legal age to be considered viable. His bill received an unopposed second reading.