UK gay couples queue for civil partnership ceremonies
July 12, 2004
LONDON — Gay couples stood in line for up to two hours Friday to register
for Britain's first same-sex weddings.
More than 100 couples who entered their names in a register at
Brighton Town Hall in southern England will be the first to marry
legally under the Civil Partnerships Bill.
The bill, which is expected to receive the assent of Queen
Elizabeth II – largely a formality – later this year, would give gay
and lesbian couples who agree a civil partnership the same pension
and other rights as married couples for the first time.
Brighton, which has been called Britain's gay capital, is
planning to become a major venue for same-sex weddings when the
bill gets royal assent, with the first ceremonies expected next
Roger Lewis, 55, from Brighton, was the first to sign the book
with his partner Keith Willmott-Goodall.
"If couples want to marry then they should be allowed to," Lewis
said. "It's not so much the marriage thing, which I think is more
important for couples planning to have children, but it is a better
way that we can commit to each other in public."
Several other European countries, including Belgium, the
Netherlands, France and Germany, already recognize gay unions.
Under the British bill, gay partners would form a civil
partnership by signing a register before an official and two
witnesses. There would be a formal, court-based process for
dissolution of a partnership. – Sapa-AP
Marriage for Spanish gays on statute books next year, minister says [28/06/2004]