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Last Updated: Monday, 21 February, 2005, 16:41 GMT
City offers gay and lesbian vows
Birmingham's register office is asking same-sex couples to make early provisional bookings with them to exchange their vows under a new law.

The first registrations take place on 21 December.

The council says it is now offering its registration service as an early contact point for people wishing to arrange partnership registration.

The Civil Partnership Act allows gays to sign an official document in front of the registrar and two witnesses.

"Fair and just"

Councillor Neil Eustace, Chair of the City Council's Public Protection Committee, said: "I am pleased that Birmingham is one of the first cities prepared to take provisional bookings for registered partnerships.

"Under this Act, same-sex couples will be afforded the same rights, protection and expression of commitment to their loved one as people who are married, which is only fair and just."

Registration will be available only to homosexuals and not as an alternative to heterosexual marriage.

The partnerships will allow gays to benefit from a dead partner's pension, grant next-of-kin rights in hospitals and exempt them from inheritance tax on a partner's home.

Partners will also be able to dissolve the agreement in a form of divorce.

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