Same-sex relationships recognised by law in Britain

From Brighton to Birmingham and beyond, gay and lesbian couples began registering today for the first ceremonies later this month permitting a form of same-sex marriage in &to=' target=_blank>Britain.

As a new law permitting what are called civil partnerships came into effect, at least 1,200 couples scheduled ceremonies to take place beginning Dec. 19 in Northern Ireland, Dec. 20 in Scotland and Dec. 21 in England and Wales.

"This is an important piece of legislation that gives legal recognition to relationships which until now were invisible in the eyes of the law," Meg Munn, a government minister, said.

The Times of London, once the staid voice of the establishment, extended the "Births, Marriages and Deaths" column in its Court and Social Register pages today to included a new category "Civil Partnerships." In it, two male couples and a female couple announced their intentions, reports New York Times.

According to, three couples hoping to make history by being the first to form civil partnerships have registered their intention to 'marry' as new laws came into force. Debbie and Elaine Gaston, Gino Meriano and Mike Ullett, and Roger Lewis and Keith Willmott-Goodall arrived at the register office in Brighton's Town Hall at 7.30am to sign up for civil partnerships.

They hope to be the first to form the partnerships when they take part in a joint ceremony in the city at 8am on Dec 21, after a mandatory 15-day waiting period has passed.

Brighton and Hove City Council said the six were believed to be the first in the country to register their intention today, after the register office opened early.

Debra Reynolds, the registrar, said: "It was a spur of the moment thing. I said 'Let's just do it because you have already been waiting for this day for a long time.'"

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