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Last Updated: Friday, 9 July, 2004, 12:59 GMT 13:59 UK
Gay wedding waiting list launched
A gay couple
Partners in same-sex relationships will be given legal rights
Gay couples queued for hours to sign the UK's first same-sex wedding waiting list book in Brighton on Friday.

Brighton and Hove City Council has launched the "pink wedding waiting list" for gay and lesbian couples ahead of the new Civil Partnership Bill.

The Bill, unveiled in March, will give legal rights to couples who register their partnership at a civil ceremony.

The council says it aims to become the UK's flagship city for gay partners who want to tie the knot.

The waiting list is a way for a same-sex couple to demonstrate both their commitment to each other and their support for the Bill
David Panter

More than 100 same-sex couples - one of which arrived at the town hall in a pink Cadillac - entered their names in the pink suede-covered book in a bid to become among the first to marry under the proposed Bill.

Roger Lewes, 55, from Brighton, was the first to put his name on the list, together with that of his partner Keith Willmott-Goodall.

"We didn't expect to be the first to sign but we are happy that we were," he said.

Having carried out what it says is the greatest number of same-sex commitment ceremonies in the country, the council says it wants to become Britain's "pioneer city for pink weddings".

A gay wedding fair is due to take place in the city in November.

Legal implications

Council chief executive David Panter said: "The waiting list is a way for a same-sex couple to demonstrate both their commitment to each other and their support for the Bill."

The term "gay marriage" is not used in the Bill, but the Civil Partnership Registration Scheme appears to have been designed to be as close to a marriage contract as possible.

To help couples understand the legal implications of the new ceremony, a celebrant from Brighton register office attended the launch.

Council leader Ken Bodfish said: "The Bill means we will be able to offer same-sex couples a ceremony that will help provide them with a secure future in a loving relationship."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Alison Holt
"Civil partnerships would give them the same sort of security as a married couple"



SEE ALSO:
Gay couples to get joint rights
31 Mar 04  |  Politics


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