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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 May, 2003, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Same sex 'weddings'
A same sex wedding
The ceremonies do not mean the couples are legally wed
Northamptonshire County Council has announced that it will offer "commitment ceremonies" to couples who do not want to officially marry, or who cannot marry for legal reasons.

The ceremony, in which two people witness the signing of a certificate, is not legally binding and is available for both heterosexual adult partners and same sex couples.

Stuart McQuade, director of Northampton Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Alliance, said: "We welcome the county council's decision to introduce same sex partner commitment ceremonies.

"A number of couples of both genders have made enquiries about this and we will be most interested to see who will be the first same sex couple to take the plunge, so to speak."

Alternative to marriage

The non-religious ceremonies are to be held in local authority venues, including registery offices, civic buildings and approved venues such as stately homes and hotels.

Cabinet member for public protection and community planning Councillor James Ashton said: "It gives couples a special chance to make a commitment to each other as an alternative to getting married.

"It will also give same sex couples, who can't by law be married, a new opportunity to publicly show their commitment and love to one another."

But Mr McQuade said same sex couples should not forget that the ceremony does not change their legal status and does not mean they are legally married in the same sense as a heterosexual couple.

He said campaigners would continue to work towards that end.

Married in all but the legal sense
05 Sep 01  |  UK News

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