Who would have thought, ten or even five years ago, that gay couples in their thousands would be legally tying the knot across this dear nation of ours?
Today marks the one-year anniversary of civil partnership legislation that has finally made honest men and women of an incredible amount of us gays.
After years of hard campaigning the Civil Partnership Act 2004 took effect and at 11am on 5th December 2005 the very first civil partnership registration in England took place.
Fast forward one year, and Register Offices around the country are inundated with civil partnership ceremonies and a brand new wedding market has emerged.
To help celebrate the one-year anniversary, PinkNews.co.uk takes a look back at the year that was.
The Office of National Statistics revealed yesterday that over 15,000 partnerships were registered up to September this year in the UK.
Deputy Equality minister Meg Munn called the Civil Partnership Act, which came into force last December, one of the most significant pieces of legislation introduced by the Blair government
She said: “The Civil Partnership Act stands as an example of advancing social justice through removing barriers to basic rights, and in this instance, to those who had been denied them for too long.”
There has been support for partnerships across the political spectrum since the first ceremony was performed in Belfast last December.
David Cameron made a positive reference to gay partnerships in his speech to the Tory party conference earlier this year.
He said that there was something special about marriage that is not about religion or morality, but also about “the two of us together, and that really matters.”
Gay charity Stonewall led the campaign for civil partnership laws, Public and Parliamentary Affairs spokesman, Alan Wardle, told PinkNews.co.uk that the statistics prove the charity was right when it pushed for the rights.
“We were vindicated when we thought there would be demand, we have been proven right. The statistics are a lot higher than the government expected.”
“It’s great that the law has caused a huge amount of happiness.”
5th December 2005
At 11am the very first Civil Partnership registration in England and Wales took place. Matthew Roche of Worthing married his partner of 7 years, Christopher Camp. Matthew and Christopher were given special permission to marry early because Matthew was terminally ill. He died the day after their ceremony, having said he felt very lucky to have been given the opportunity to marry.
21st December 2005
Three couples simultaneously marry at 8am in Brighton – the exact time the legislation comes into effect. The first three couples includes Rev Debbie Gaston and Elaine Gaston, Gino Meriano and Mike Ullett and Roger Lewis and his Keith Willmott-Goodall.
Brighton has already received more than 500 bookings for civil ceremonies to take place in 2006.
Sir Elton John and David Furnish become the first celebrity couple in England to marry. The couple host a banquet reception for 700 guests.
Liz King and Daphne Ligthart are the first couple to plan divorce just two months after celebrating their civil partnership.
The unhappy couple cannot file for dissolution because forms to dissolve a civil partnership don’t yet exist.
15 September 2006
Westminster celebrates its 500th civil partnership ceremony as Chris and Julian tie the knot at Old Marylebone Town Hall.
30th September 2006
Brighton and Hove holds its 600th civil partnership. Nas Badshah and boyfriend of 25 years Bruce Gibson are presented with champagne to mark the occasion.
“The entire team at Brighton and Hove Register Office is immensely proud and privileged to have reached our 600th ceremony in just 9 months,” says City Registrar Trevor Love.
We hate to put a downer on it, but it’s not all happiness and confetti! What happens if it all goes wrong?
Martin Cray of Martin Cray Co Solicitors said: “The impact of the prenuptial agreement has changed dramatically in recent times. Previously, only residents of California and the like could take advantage of the security it offered as Courts in England did not see them as conclusive. That has changed.
“As long as both parties tell each other about all of their financial circumstances and get separate legal advice on their position, a court is likely to uphold a prenuptial agreement. This represents a major sea change in family law and one that any gay couple should consider.”
One of the first marriage counselling services for gay couples is due to launch in Brighton early next year.
Brighton’s Lesbian and Gay Switchboard has teamed up with relationship guidance charity Relate to offer support to gay couples having marriage difficulty.
Entitled The Counselling Project, the partnership is training counsellors to deal specifically with the needs of gay couples.
“We fully support the counselling project,” said gay wedding Gino Meriano from Pink Weddings.
“The service needs to be geared to same-sex couples with counsellors that understand what happens in gay relationships.”
With more funding, the service aims to go nationwide in the future.