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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 20:09 GMT
Dying man has same-sex 'wedding'
Matthew Roche and Christopher Cramp
Matthew Roche and Christopher Cramp at St Barnabas Hospice
A terminally ill man and his partner are believed to have made history as the first same-sex couple in the UK to be joined in a civil partnership.

Matthew Roche, who is dying from lung cancer, and Christopher Cramp held their ceremony hours after the Civil Partnership Act became law on Monday.

The couple, from Brighton, were given special permission to "marry" before the normal 15-day waiting period.

The ceremony was held at St Barnabas Hospice in Worthing, West Sussex.

"I really, really needed to get married and we are very lucky indeed to be given the opportunity," said Mr Roche. "It was a mad scramble."

For most couples in England, the first day they will be allowed to tie the knot is 21 December.

Mr Roche feared he would not live that long and Mr Cramp went to Brighton Town Hall at 0900GMT on Monday to seek special permission for their ceremony to go ahead straight away.

Matthew Roche with Christopher Cramp before he became ill
The couple before Mr Roche became seriously ill

The couple, who have been together seven years, were legally joined two hours later.

"Chris and I have always wanted to do this - it is just a shame that I have been taken so early," said Mr Roche.

Mr Cramp said he had mixed feelings about the bitter-sweet occasion.

"But I am very happy that we have managed to reach this point in our lives where we can legally get married," he said.

Brighton's Registrar Debra Reynolds said she was "flabbergasted" by the response to the new legislation.

Three couples waited outside the Town Hall at dawn on Monday to be the first to register their intention to form civil partnerships and the register office has had to expand to cope with demand.

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