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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 10:38 GMT
Gay couple among first to 'wed'
Michael Rothwell and Terry George
The couple toast their partnership at the entrance to their nightclub
Two Leeds businessmen were among the first same-sex couples to "tie the knot" in England and Wales on Wednesday as soon as a new law came into force.

Michael Rothwell and Terry George held a civil partnership ceremony at a flat above their nightclub, Fibre.

The signing of the register was followed by a reception in their club.

The Moulin Rouge-themed event gave Mr Rothwell and Mr George, from Halifax, West Yorkshire, legal recognition of their 16-year relationship.

The couple, who arrived in white dinner jackets on a horse-drawn carriage, were greeted by around 100 family and friends.

A red carpet had been laid on the pavement outside the club and two 10ft high red stiletto heels marked the club's entrance.

It's history in the making
Best man Dennis Dewsnap

Both men said they were very nervous and excited but were glad they were among the first.

At 8am, in the flat above the club, Mr George signed the register first and after signing his name, he said he felt "quite sickly actually, I'm shaking and it's very weird".

He said it was a "milestone" for gay rights.

"In some Arab countries at the moment, people are being persecuted for being gay.

"This service sends a strong message to the rest of the world that Britain has accepted it. It shows having a civil ceremony is acceptable."

Brazilian honeymoon

Mr Rothwell added: "It's important for our family and friends to see us in commitment together.

"It's been a long time in coming. We're just going to have a fantastic time and party all day."

The couple plan to travel to Brazil on honeymoon next year to attend the Rio Carnival.

Registrar Jean Lee said she was not so much nervous as "apprehensive" about the service.

She said: "Obviously we have not done it before so we wanted to get it absolutely right. We are obviously delighted with how it went."



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