Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What a Gay Day!

So, Civil Partnerships are here and 1,200 couples have already registered their intention to sign the register. Even Elton has got in on the act. The BBC reports that Brighton and Hove will be conducting 198 ceremonies before the end of the year. Overall, the city has taken 510 bookings for the coming months, thought to be the highest in the country. Other cities which have seen strong interest include London, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

As I live in Newcastle I was interested that my city has the fourth highest number of provisional bookings, even if this is just 80. My partner got some info from the council last week, and if we book now we can have the ceremony on New Year's Eve. Don't think we will be doing it that quickly though, as we haven't decided whether to treat it as simply a legal process to ensure we have the same rights as married couples - tenancy, ownership, pensions and inheritance; or whether to make a big deal with family and friends and a full-on party.

Lorraine Dewison, Superintendent Registrar at Newcastle City Council, said: “We have been delighted at the response by members of the gay and lesbian community and I am looking forward to helping couples plan their special day and this important chapter of their lives.”

Provisional Bookings (BBC)
Brighton and Hove: 510
Westminster: 140
Manchester: 88
Newcastle: 80
Birmingham: 70
Leeds: 60
Edinburgh: 76
Sheffield: 58
Nottingham: 50
Glasgow: 30
Cardiff: 24
Belfast: 20
Liverpool 20

Really, it is a pretty momentous change and should go a long way to normalising the place of gay couples in society. Legal recognition is important in legitimising gay relationships and showing young men and women that the feelings they are coming to terms with are normal.

I see that New Zealand has also recognised same-sex partnerships. The Civil Union Bill, which passed by 65 votes to 55, also recognises unions between men and women who do not want to marry. The new law takes effect next April.

The BBC has a useful page showing the status of same sex relationships across the world, as well as a map of the different US states position on gay marriage.