[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 15:10 GMT
Gay couples among first to 'wed'
Civil partnership ceremony
Before 1967 gay couples could have been jailed for being together
Single-sex couples in the South West have been among the first in England and Wales to be legally recognised as civil partners.

The law came into force on Wednesday enabling gay partners to share the same legal rights as married couples.

Peter and Francis Scott Morgan partners for 27 years, legally became a couple at a service in Paignton, Devon.

And in Cornwall, George Candlin and Michael Pass, partners for more than 20 years, took part in a ceremony in Bude.

People should not pay attention to race, religion or gender - they should be looking at the love
Peter Scott Morgan

The wedding service at Paignton's Oldway Mansion was part of English legal history.

Nearly 100 guests, including four generations of Peter and Francis Scott Morgan's family attended the ceremony, which was officially witnessed by the Mayor of Torbay, Nick Bye.

"It shows how social attitudes have changed. It's been a wonderful setting and I wish Peter and Francis all the luck in the world", the mayor said.

The men, who joined their names 15 years ago, are now legally a couple and have welcomed the equality they now have.

However some people, including many parts of the church, have said they will not recognise the unions which they claim damage the sanctity of marriage.

Civil partnership ceremony
The ceremony was witnessed by the Mayor of Torbay

David Witchell, Dean of Torbay, said: "Of course it's people's choice, but it doesn't square clearly with the teaching of the Church of England or the Bible, unless there's celibacy involved."

The new couple said they once feared society would not allow them to be legally recognised.

Peter Scott Morgan said: "A decade before [we met] we could have been thrown in jail for just being a couple.

"Now the official position is that we're equal in law. We are a couple and we should be treated as a couple.

"People should not pay attention to race, religion or gender - they should be looking at the love."




RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific