Yesternight as the clock struck 12 ,some Gay couples across England and Wales tied the knot and said “I Do”as the law authorising Gay marriage came into effect at midnight was passed . Several gay couples vying to claim the title of being the first to be married by trying to time it perfectly so their vows were said just seconds after the clock struck 12. 29th of March 2014 will be a day that wont be forgotten in a hurry in England and Wales as “Freedom” for Partnership was passed.
The first Gay couples to tie the knot were Islington couple Peter McGraith and David Cabreza
In Brighton on England’s south coast, Neil Allard and Andrew Wale exchanged vows and rings in the opulent splendour of the Royal Pavilion in front of about 100 guests.
Wearing velvet-collared three-piece suits with white flowers in their buttonholes, the smiling couple of seven years hugged and kissed after they became “husband and husband”. They were among several couples bidding to be first to take advantage of last year’s Marriage (Gay Couples) Act by holding midnight weddings. “We are very happy this day has come finally. It’s very exciting,” said Wale, a 49-year-old theatre director. Emerging out into the crisp night air after the ceremony, they were stunned to be greeted by hundreds of cheering supporters.
Prime Minister David Cameron hailed what he said was an “important moment for our country”, and a rainbow flag flew above government offices in London in celebration.
Peter McGraith and David Cabreza, who have been together for 17 years, tied the knot at Islington Town Hall, north London, just moments after midnight struck. Ahead of their ceremony, 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 orientation.”
After watching the ceremony, campaigner Peter Tatchell told Sky News there was still more to be done. “We need to keep up the battle to insure that all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in this country and around the world have equal human rights,” he said. “We didn’t want to get married until it was a marriage that my mum and dad could have,” said Teresa Millward, 37, who will wed her her long-term girlfriend on Saturday.
The gay marriage law is the final victory in a long battle stretching back to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England in 1967. Cameron backed the change despite strong opposition from members of his Conservative party and the established Church of England. “This weekend is an important moment for our country,” the prime minister wrote in an article for Pink News. “Put simply, in Britain it will no longer matter whether you are straight or gay — the state will recognise your relationship as equal.- Still resistance – Not all attitudes have changed.
A poll for BBC radio said 20 percent of British adults would turn down an invitation to a same-sex wedding. However, the survey also found 68 percent agreed gay marriage should be permitted, with 26 percent opposing it.
The Church of England had opposed same-sex marriage, insisting weddings should only take place between a man and a woman, and secured an exemption from the new law. The House of Bishops last month also warned clergy they should not bless married gay couples. But Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans, said the Church had accepted the new law and would continue to demonstrate “the love of Christ for every human being”.
Peter McGraith and David Cabreza, who have been together for 17 years, also married shortly after midnight in front of friends and their two adopted sons in London. They hope their wedding will send out a message to places like Nigeria, Uganda and Russia where the idea of gay marriage is a distant dream. While 15 countries have legalised gay marriage and another three allow it in some areas, homosexuals remain persecuted in many parts of the world. “There’s a lot of gay men and lesbians around the world who are not invited to the party,” McGraith, a clothing designer, told AFP ahead of the big day. Same-sex couples who were married abroad are now recognised under the new law, although only in England and Wales. Scotland, which has devolved powers, is expected to introduce gay marriage later this year, while the British-controlled province of Northern Ireland remains deeply divided on the issue and has no plans to change the law there.