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Saturday 20 September 2014

Couples celebrate first gay marriages in UK

Mehreen Khan

Published 30/03/2014 | 02:30

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Lesbian couple Sarah Keith (L) and Emma Powell pose with the register during their same-sex wedding at the Claremont Hotel in Brighton, southern England March 29, 2014. Prime Minister David Cameron hailed Britain's first gay marriages on Saturday, saying marriage was not something that should be denied to anyone because of their sexuality.  REUTERS/Luke Macgregor (BRITAIN  - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS RELIGION)
Couple Sarah Keith (L) and Emma Powell pose with the register during their same-sex wedding at the Claremont Hotel in Brighton
Gay couple Andrew Wale (R) and Neil Allard embrace at the hotel after marrying in the first same-sex wedding in Brighton, which took place at the Royal Pavilion, in southern England March 29, 2014. Saturday is the first day gay couples will be allowed to tie the knot in England and Wales after the government legalised same-sex marriage last July. Wale and Allard are the first out of five same-sex couples that tied the knot in Brighton, on Saturday. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY)
Gay couple Andrew Wale (R) and Neil Allard embrace at the hotel after marrying in the first same-sex wedding in Brighton, which took place at the Royal Pavilion, in southern England March 29, 2014. Saturday is the first day gay couples will be allowed to tie the knot in England and Wales after the government legalised same-sex marriage last July. Wale and Allard are the first out of five same-sex couples that tied the knot in Brighton, on Saturday. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY)

SAME-SEX couples across England and Wales are celebrating this weekend after taking advantage of a new law to become legally married.

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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.

PA

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