Gay couples to tie the knot in first same-sex marriages in Britain

Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:38am EDT
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By Julia Fioretti

LONDON (Reuters) - Peter McGraith and David Cabreza will marry in London a stroke after midnight on Friday, marking the culmination of a campaign to end a distinction many British gay couples say made them feel like second class citizens.

Saturday will be 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.

Gay couples have been allowed since 2005 to enter "civil partnerships", conferring the same legal rights as marriage, but campaigners say the distinction gives the impression that society considers gay relationships inferior.

"It's back of the bus thinking," McGraith said, comparing the rule on civil partnerships to segregation in the pre-civil rights United States when black Americans had to sit in the back of public buses.

"You understand that sense of the whole wedding thing and baby showers and of it being an indulgence of other people's and not ours," he said.

Emma Powell, 29, agreed. She will marry her partner Sarah Keith, 30, on Saturday in Brighton, a resort town on England's southern coast with a vibrant gay community.

"This notion of separate but equal makes you feel like a second class citizen," she said.

The law's passage last summer caused deep splits in Prime Minister David Cameron's ruling Conservative Party, where many are opposed to same-sex marriage because it contradicts their Christian beliefs.   Continued...