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The first same-sex marriage ceremonies in the United Kingdom will take place in the first minutes of this Saturday. Women may now be lawfully wedded to women and men to men, and the newly updated Marriage Act gives same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples who are married.
Chief registrar at Westminster City Council Alison Cathcart will be working late.
Cathcart said: “I’ll be here at about half past ten getting ready, making sure that our systems are in place, ready to issue my authority for the marriage to take place on the stroke of midnight. I will be signing that document. It’s my permission for the marriage to proceed. A wedding is actually a verbal contract, so it’s the saying of the legal wording that makes you married. The signing of the register afterwards is not the legal act of marriage. It’s the actual saying of the words, so there’s a subtle difference. Civil partnership’s a written contract. Marriage is a verbal contract.”
Sinclair Gray Treadway and Sean Adl-Tabatabai want to be among the very first homosexual and lesbian couples to say, ‘I do’, at Camden Town Hall.
Treadway said: “Being married… I mean, you’re giving yourself completely to someone, and that’s something really special and it’s an institution that gay people were kept out of in this country, and to be part of that, to be able to do that, is… really… means a lot to us.”
Adl-Tabatabai said: “I also think that, for the gay community, traditionally, there’s been that stereotype that they don’t want to be part of the marriage community, they don’t want to be part of any of that because they’re open and it’s all about promiscuity, sometimes, in that community, and it’s completely false.”
In honour of the historic opening up of the institution of marriage, the rainbow flag will be flown from some official buildings. Peter McGraith and David Cabreza at Islington Town Hall tell us why they will take their vows tonight.
McGraith said: “First, because I felt there was a privilege of being first and that is having a chance to say to the world that although this marks progress in the United Kingdom, there’s an awful long way to go for gay men and lesbians around the world, and I want to show some solidarity and give a message of hope to all of those people who are still living under repressive regimes.”
Cabreza said: “We’ve also been together 17 years, so it’s about time! It’s been a long time, so we’re ready for it.”
Our correspondent in London, Emily Dexter, said: “There’s another twist in this tale: 18 months ago, restrictions were lifted so that weddings can take place in Britain around the clock. As a result, register offices are offering late-night ceremonies, and the one minute past midnight slot is proving very popular with gay couples.”