Couples celebrate first gay marriages in UK
Published 30/03/2014 | 02:30
SAME-SEX couples across England and Wales are celebrating this weekend after taking advantage of a new law to become legally married.
One of the first gay couples to be married as soon as the law allowed were actor Andrew Wale, 49, and guesthouse owner Neil Allard, 48, who wed at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton just after midnight on Friday.
They were among a number of gay couples vying for the title of being the first to be married as ceremonies took place across Britain.
Wearing matching suits, they arrived at the pavilion at about 11.30pm and stopped to pose for photos for the waiting media.
British Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the introduction of gay marriages in England and Wales as "historic".
He said: "Congratulations to the gay couples who have already been married and my best wishes to those about to be on this historic day."
More than 2,000 people and a host of famous faces gathered to see comedian Sandi Toksvig and her partner Debbie renew their wedding vows at a public ceremony on London's South Bank.
The couple, who first entered into a civil partnership seven years ago, were joined by members of the public and friends as they exchanged vows on stage with their four children at the Royal Festival Hall.
The Radio 4 News Quiz presenter described the day as a "an astonishing moment in history".
In a speech, an emotional Toksvig said: "There was many a time I thought this day would never come."
Speaking of her partner, she said: "We're still crazy about each other. I can't believe my luck – look how gorgeous she is. I want a piece of paper to say she won't ever leave me."
A host of famous faces attended, including comedian Phill Jupitus, fashion guru Mary Portas, Peter Tatchell and Christopher Biggins.
Toksvig's friend and actress Sheila Hancock read Maya Angelou's poem, Touched By An Angel, along with Debbie's daughter, who also did a reading.
Civil partnerships were introduced in Britain in 2004. The Westminster government has said they can be converted to marriages by the end of the year, according to Culture Secretary Maria Miller.