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Gay Gloucestershire couples get ready to tie the knot as same sex marriage becomes legal tonight

By EchoLauraC  |  Posted: March 28, 2014

Gay.com projected an image of two men getting married onto the Houses of Parliament in 2005, as the Civil Partnership Act came into force.

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AS THE clocks strike midnight tonight same sex marriage will become legal and many gay Gloucestershire couples are already looking forward to tying the knot.

The county’s first homosexual wedding will be taking place in Cheltenham on Sunday and some 34 happy couples have already booked in their ceremonies.

Richard Stevens, vice-chairman of Gloucestershire Pride, welcomed what he described as the “last piece of equality legislation” coming into force for the lesbian, bisexual and gay community.

He said: “I think it is something that my partner and me will consider because marriage can be more symbolic than a civil partnership.

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“When you go to a civil partnership you don’t hear the words husband and wife, it is about becoming partners and that has always struck me as an obvious differentiation.

“This puts people not just on the same legal footing, but social footing. It is an important step and piece of equality legislation.

“Civil partnerships have been very good in what they did and gave some recognition.

“But this is significant. It means everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, will for the first time not treated differently.”

The changes to the law will mean that religious readings, music or symbols, which were currently banned during civil partnership ceremonies, will now be allowed.

When civil partnerships began in 2005, initially there was a surge of couples taking the step, with more than 18,000 ceremonies in the first 12 months, and less than half that number in subsequent years.

Commentators believe the same could happen now for gay couples wanting to get married.

Some 15 countries have already legalised same-sex marriage.

“Although we have not led the way on this, Britain is one of the best places to be gay in the world,” Mr Stevens added.

The new law will be celebrated at this year’s Gloucestershire Pride, based in Gloucester Park on June 14 where a same sex wedding village will be held.

Thomas Duggins, senior associate at law firm Charles Russell LLP, based at Lypiatt Road in Cheltenham said: “While the term “ground-breaking” is bandied around relatively liberally, it is perhaps warranted on this occasion.

“The introduction of gay marriage represents a substantial legal and social break from the past.

“While the Civil Partnership Act 2004 granted same sex couples virtually all of the legal protection of marriage, for many the creation of an alternative system of registering a union was active discrimination.

“The strength of feeling expressed, by those both for and against same sex marriage, somewhat contradicts recent surveys which suggest the waning importance of marriage as an institution.

“There are reports of many couples rushing to registry offices at one minute past midnight on 29 March 2014 in an effort to be the first in the country to enter a same sex marriage.”

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  • uk_socrates  |  March 28 2014, 3:29PM

    @RoadWombat. Its an interesting point. I have a lot of gay friends, none of which are religious. That said, there is the very rare religious LGBT person that pops up on TV sometimes, it might be interesting to see what the ECHR says, if a case is brought against the Church of England etc. It might promote a big debate within religious communities and organisations as well. Its a tricky one, and any legal cases take a long time. Its kind of a grey area, as some religious texts SEEM to speak out against male homosexuality, but say nothing/little about female or transgender homosexuality. Its tricky as the ECHR does sometimes back religious beliefs/customs. For example The BA worker who won her right to wear a small cross at work. http://tinyurl.com/7r6acbj I don't think this will be a major issue in the future. I would of thought the ECHR would back religious organisations. That said there has been some interesting arguments recently about Bible translations and interpretations, but these would be matters for religious organisations to discuss.

  • RoadWombat  |  March 28 2014, 2:40PM

    Quite correct, Socrates, but they DO have the right to decide who they themselves will or will not marry.

  • uk_socrates  |  March 28 2014, 2:17PM

    @Matt1006. Here here. Religion X Y OR Z does not own marriage. People were getting married long before any of today's religions even came into existence.

  • RoadWombat  |  March 28 2014, 2:08PM

    No problem with it, except that we are also a country that prides itself on its religious tolerance. The request from homosexuals to have the right to marry has now been met. What we don't want to see is those very people to whom the hand of friendship and acceptance has been extended, to display intolerance against religious communities by trying to force the issue on them via the ECHR. As with most things in this world, it is a case of compromise and give and take.

  • Matt1006  |  March 28 2014, 1:51PM

    It's legal from midnight tonight. Quite understand that some people disagree with it, but they'll just have to deal with it. Not everybody gets things just the way they want them, and those against same-sex marriages are just going to have to live with it from tonight.

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  • uk_socrates  |  March 28 2014, 1:23PM

    Great news!. It's great that LGBT people can now get married. Sadly there will be a small minority of religious people who are annoyed at this. However a quick look at a history book would reveal that marriage has gone through various changes and practices.