Published on 29 Mar 2014 Sections

Rainbow flags greet first gay weddings

Flags are flown across the country to hail the first same-sex marriages in England and Wales. David Cameron calls it a victory for equality.

Several couples got married just seconds after the law changed to allow gay weddings at midnight on Friday.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act came into force in July last year and on March 13 this year couples were able to register their intention to marry.

Rainbow flags will be flown above the Cabinet Office and the Scotland Office in Westminster to mark the occasion.

While whoever said the words “I do” during their ceremony first could claim the title of first gay couple to be wed in the UK, other couples who previously married abroad could have their unions recognised from 13 March.

Sue Wilkinson, 60, and Celia Kitzinger, 57, married in Canada in 2003 and fought for eight years to have their union recognised here.

Due to the change in the law, their marriage became legally binding at one minute past midnight on March 13.

Actor Andrew Wale, 49, and guesthouse owner Neil Allard, 48, wed at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton just after midnight.

The pair, who live in Brighton and have been together for seven years, said it would be a “privilege” to be the first same-sex couple to be married at a place where they went on early dates.

Wearing matching suits, they arrived at the pavilion by car at about 11.30pm and stopped at the main entrance to pose for photos for the waiting media.

They were wed by senior ceremonies registrar Trevor Love, who pronounced them legally married at 12 minutes past midnight.

Following the ceremony, Mr Wale said: “It’s kind of extraordinary. We did not really expect it to happen so suddenly, so soon.

“We were waiting and nothing seemed to be happening so we were considering a civil partnership, which is not true equality. So we are very happy this day has come finally.”

John Coffey, 52, and Bernardo Marti, 48, from Pimlico, were married at precisely 12am at Mayfair Library in Westminster, London.

Peter McGraith and David Cabreza were another couple to take advantage of the new legislation as soon as they possibly could.


Peter McGraith and David Cabreza

Ahead of their ceremony at Islington Town Hall Mr McGraith said: “We are thrilled to be getting married. It is a mark of significant social progress in the UK that the legal distinction between gay and straight relationships has been removed.

“Very few countries afford their gay and lesbian citizens equal marriage rights and we believe that this change in law will bring hope and strength to gay men and lesbians in Nigeria, Uganda, Russia, India and elsewhere, who lack basic equality and are being criminalised for their sexual orientation.”

Another four same sex couples will be married in Brighton and Hove later on today.

Broadcaster Sandi Toksvig and her civil partner Debbie Toksvig will renew their vows at a public event at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank in London this morning.

‘Powerful message’

Writing in Pink News, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Of course any marriage takes work, requires patience and understanding, give and take – but what it gives back in terms of love, support, stability and happiness is immeasurable.

“That is not something that the state should ever deny someone on the basis of their sexuality. When people’s love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change.

“The introduction of same-sex civil marriage says something about the sort of country we are.”

He added: “It says we are a country that will continue to honour its proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth. It also sends a powerful message to young people growing up who are uncertain about their sexuality.

“It clearly says ‘you are equal’ whether straight or gay. That is so important in trying to create an environment where people are no longer bullied because of their sexuality – and where they can realise their potential, whether as a great mathematician like Alan Turing, a star of stage and screen like Sir Ian McKellen or a wonderful journalist and presenter like Clare Balding.”

Tory vote could suffer

A new poll suggests that one in five Britons is less likely to vote Conservative because of the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Some 14 per cent said the policy made them more likely to back David Cameron’s party.

The results suggesting that his support for gay marriage could damage efforts to persuade Ukip voters to switch to the Conservatives ahead of the European elections in May.

The ComRes poll for the Coalition for Marriage – which campaigned against same-sex weddings – found 21 per cent of voters were less inclined to vote Tory in May because of the reform, 14 per cent were more likely to back the Tories, and 55 per cent said the change made no difference.

Rainbow flag in Westminster

He added: “It says we are a country that will continue to honour its proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth. It also sends a powerful message to young people growing up who are uncertain about their sexuality.

“It clearly says ‘you are equal’ whether straight or gay. That is so important in trying to create an environment where people are no longer bullied because of their sexuality – and where they can realise their potential, whether as a great mathematician like Alan Turing, a star of stage and screen like Sir Ian McKellen or a wonderful journalist and presenter like Clare Balding.”

Tory vote could suffer

A new poll suggests that one in five Britons is less likely to vote Conservative because of the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Some 14 per cent said the policy made them more likely to back David Cameron’s party.

The results suggesting that his support for gay marriage could damage efforts to persuade Ukip voters to switch to the Conservatives ahead of the European elections in May.

The ComRes poll for the Coalition for Marriage – which campaigned against same-sex weddings – found 21 per cent of voters were less inclined to vote Tory in May because of the reform, 14 per cent were more likely to back the Tories, and 55 per cent said the change made no difference.

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