Page last updated at 17:47 GMT, Saturday, 27 March 2010

MP Bryant's civil partnership a 'first' for Westminster

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant (centre) with partner Jared Cranney and Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman
Rhondda MP Chris Bryant (centre) with partner Jared Cranney and Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman after the civil partnership ceremony

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant has made history by celebrating the first civil partnership ceremony to be held in the Palace of Westminster.

The Europe minister entered a partnership with company secretary Jared Cranney.

After the service in the members' dining room, the couple said they "never thought this day would come".

They thanked Commons Speaker John Bercow for helping to make their "really special day" possible.

Mr Bercow hosted drinks afterwards in Speaker's House and guests included deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman.

Parliament is special because it has made it possible
Chris Bryant MP and partner Jared Cranney

Weddings have already been held in the palace of Westminster's chapel in the grounds but as a religious venue it could not accommodate same-sex civil partnerships.

In a statement after the ceremony, Mr Bryant and Mr Cranney said: "We never thought this day would come - and never thought we'd have to worry about cakes and flowers and rings.

"It's amazing how much things have changed in such a short time.

"Only a few years ago there was a different gay age of consent, you could sack people or refuse to serve them just because of their sexuality and gays were banned from the military, from adopting or getting married.

"Parliament is special because it has made it possible. We are delighted that everyone in the UK can now share in a privilege that used to be available just to straight MPs."

The move to allow civil partnerships in the palace was raised by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last year when he gave evidence to the Speaker's conference on diversity at Westminster.

Recognition

Mr Bercow recently obtained a licence from Westminster City Council to hold the services within the parliamentary estate.

Members of the public will also be able to marry at the Palace of Westminster, with slots to be allocated via a ballot.

Cardiff-born Mr Bryant, 48, Labour MP for the Rhondda since 2001, met Mr Cranney on the local election campaign trail in April last year.

Mr Bryant is a former Church of England curate and chaplain, writer and was a head of European affairs at the BBC.

Civil partnerships were introduced in the UK under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, giving gay couples similar recognition as married couples in terms of legal protection and inheritance rights.



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