The British government wants to legalize same-sex marriage by 2015.
"This government will begin a formal consultation on how to implement equal civil marriage for same-sex couples," Minister for Equalities Lynne Featherstone said Saturday.
Featherstone made the announcement at the Liberal Democratic Party's fall conference. The party currently forms a coalition government with Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party.
The Conservative Party's 2010 platform stated it would "consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage."
In 2005, Britain granted gay couples in civil partnerships the same rights as married heterosexual couples, but without legal marital status.
The proposed change is expected to face opposition from traditional conservatives as well as from religious organizations.
A 2009 poll conducted for London's The Times newspaper by polling firm Populus found that 61 percent of respondents believed same-sex couples should have an equal right to marry.