Same sex couple in St Helens set to wed

Same sex couples will be able to marry from mindnight tonight
Same sex couples will be able to marry from mindnight tonight
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Nine same sex couples from St Helens are set to wed once new laws permitting same sex marriage come into force from the stroke of midnight tonight.

As the clock strikes 12, gay couples will be able to wed in the first ever ceremonies in England and Wales.

Nationally, a number of couples are vying to claim the title of being the first ever to be married in Britain by trying to time it perfectly so their vows are said just seconds after midnight.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act came into force in July last year.

But it was not until March 13 this year when couples were able to register their intention to marry under the Act for the first time.

While whoever says the words “I do” first thing tomorrow morning can claim the title of first gay couple to be wed in the UK, other couples who previously married abroad have already had their unions recognised.

In St Helens, eight female couples and one male couple have already stated their intention to marry with St Helens Register Office.

They include a construction worker, a dance teacher, librarians, shop assistants and cleaners.

On March 13 law in England and Wales changed to recognise same-sex marriages performed overseas.

Vying for the title of first same-sex couple to marry in Britain will be Brighton couple Andrew Wale and Neil Allard. The pair will wed in Brighton’s famous Royal Pavilion.

Five same sex couples will be married in Brighton on the first day that the Act comes into force.

Meanwhile, broadcaster Sandi Toksvig and her civil partner Debbie Toksvig will renew their vows at a public event at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank in London on Saturday morning.

Gay rights campaigners have rejoiced at the move saying Saturday will be a “momentous day”.

Ruth Hunt, acting chief executive of gay rights charity Stonewall, said: “Saturday is a momentous day for England and Wales, as the first same-sex marriages mark full legal equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.”

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who will attend the McGraith Cabreza wedding tonight, said: “Peter and David are personal friends and long-time gay rights campaigners. I am delighted to be their witness on this historic day.

“Their marriage is a celebration for them and for the whole lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. It marks the end of the ban on same-sex marriage and is another hugely significant milestone in the quest for lesbian and gay equality.

“The legalisation of same-sex marriage ends the last major legal discrimination against gay people in England and Wales. Scotland will follow later this year. Sadly, Northern Ireland remains a bastion of homophobia.

“Same-sex marriage is an unstoppable global trend because love and commitment are universal human traits, regardless of sexual orientation or nationality. No ignorance or prejudice can hold back the triumph of love.”

Rainbow flags will be hung all over the country to celebrate the occasion.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said a multi-coloured flag - adopted as a symbol of the gay community in 1970s San Francisco - will be flown above the Cabinet Office and Scotland Office from today.