Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Marriage Is Love

Sir Elton John and his long-time partner, David Furnish, made their union legal today -- the first day that a law permitting civil unions for gays and lesbians (with all the legal rights of marriage, even though not calling it marriage) became legal in the UK. They were perhaps the most famous, but not the only, same-sex couple to have civil ceremonies today: 700 other couples did as well.

Northern Ireland and Scotland have already begun holding gay "weddings" because their registration period is shorter than the 15 days required in England and Wales.

Matthew Roche, 46, and Christopher Cramp became the first gay couple in England to form a civil partnership earlier this month. The couple, from Brighton, were given permission to hold the service at St Barnabas Hospice in Worthing, West Sussex. Mr Roche died from lung cancer the next day.

The actor Sir Antony Sher and his partner of 19 years, Greg Doran, was among those taking advantage of the new law yesterday. They tied the knot at Islington town hall in London. Sir Antony, 56, said he and Mr Doran, 47, the chief associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, had been determined to go through the ceremony as soon as possible.

"I feel very proud this is happening in this country and that we can be part of the very first group to have it done," he said. "It means an enormous amount to be legal together after 18 and a half years." During the "sweet and simple" ceremony, Sir Antony delivered a speech from Cyrano de Bergerac and Mr Doran a Shakespeare sonnet.

This is an enormous step forward for both homosexuals and heterosexuals: everyone benefits when injustice and discrimination are struck down. Congratulations to everyone who legally joined their lives together today in England.

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