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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
That was then: Alex and Ian
Ian Burford and Alexander Cannell
Alexander Cannell and Ian Burford (right)
Twelve months after the first gay "marriage" - undertaken through the new London Partnerships Register - how have Ian Burford and Alexander Cannell enjoyed their first year of official union?

September 2001
Gay marriage came one step closer when London Mayor Ken Livingstone introduced the London Partnerships Register.

The story as we reported it in September 2001
Although couples signing the register do not actually marry and do not automatically benefit from the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples, their relationships are formally recognised by the Greater London Authority.

Ian Burford and Alexander Cannell seized the opportunity to "formalise" their 38-year-long relationship and, together with a lesbian couple, became the first to sign the register.

September 2002
Alex: When we signed the register there was an enormous amount of publicity. People who recognise us have proved wonderfully supportive.

When we go out shopping, strange ladies throw their arms around us and say how much they approve of what we've done. It can be quite strange.

Our decision to go on the register has oddly encouraged some of our heterosexual friends who were living together before to get married. It focused their minds on how few partnership rights they had.

Ian: It was always unlikely that going on the register would change our lives. Our lives have gone on much the same as they have during the previous 38 years - very happily.

Our decision has had a wider effect though. We thought we were pushing the first stone in the process to give gay couples proper relationship rights, but the momentum for that has built over the last year far more than we'd ever thought it would.

It annoys me when the media talks about "gay marriage". Marriage is for a man and woman. The word confuses people and gives ammunition to those who say we're undermining the institution of marriage.

Alex: I was reassured to see that five of the 314 registered gay partnerships have ended.

Of course, it's very sad that the relationships didn't work. But it shows that gay partnerships fail at the same ratio as heterosexual ones.

It's heartening to see that we're not so terribly different. The same things are at work in our relationships.


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05 Sep 01 | UK
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