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Newsroom 2004

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At Pink Weddings we want to keep you updated in the goings on of the gay and lesbian world, what's hot what's not, the very latest in the news and trends.

If you have anything you would like us to place in our news section feel free to e-mail us at newshound@pinkweddings.com.

  • 03rd Nov, Bush wins same portion of gay vote as '00
    President Bush received the exact same level of support from gay voters in 2004 as he did four years ago, according to exit polls. About one-quarter of voters — 23 percent — who self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual voted for Bush; 77 percent voted for Kerry; Ralph Nader received 0 percent. In 2000, Gore received 73 percent, Bush received 23 percent, and Nader received 3 percent.

    Also, 10 out of 11 states voted overwhelmingly to amend their constitutions to ban gay marriage. Only in Oregon was the vote still reasonably close, but as of early Wednesday morning, the measure appeared headed toward passage. Read more

    10 of 11 gay marriage bans pass; leads in Ore.

    Finally, anti-gay candidates for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky and Oklahoma were elected, despite pre-election polls that showed their races as very close.

    Ky., Okla. Senate races go to anti-gay candidates

  • 27th Oct, Civil Paternership Bill. The amendments will be introduced at the Report Stage in the House of Commons, before being sent back to the House of Lords next month. If the Bill receives Royal Assent in this Parliament, it is expected to become law towards the end of 2005. read more

  • 17th Oct, Pink Weddings launches Ticket sales for theatres, concerts and sports, find out more

    To launch this new division PInk Weddings are giving two tickets to see Jools Holland. Find out more

  • 13th Oct, Civil Partnership updates.

    Updates
    Civil Partnership Bill gets second reading

  • 12th Oct, Results from todays second reading for the Civil Parternship Bill -

    Second Reading - passed by 426 votes to 49.

    Programme Motion - passed by 337 votes to 105:

    "Proceedings in the Standing Committee shall be brought to a conclusion on 21st October 2004."

  • 12th Oct, Civil Partnerships come to the House of Commons. The story so far

  • 12th Oct, Sandals drops gay ban. Read more

  • 3rd Oct, PInk Weddings joins a lively debate on the Richard Bacon show, BBC Radio 5, supporting and defending equal rights for gay couples with the Civil Partnership.

  • 2nd Oct, Your help is needed - Civil Partnership Bill second Reading 12th Oct 2004 - find out how

  • 1st Oct, Plymouth to offer commitment ceremonies, read the story or visit our Plymouth page

  • 27th Sept, Pink Weddings adds Italy to its list of destinations for Gay Weddings. Show me

  • 19th Sept, Blair delays gay marriage bill to give Paisley party chance to vote - read more

  • 6th Sept, Reading Pride, coverage of the first ever pride event held in Reading, Berkshire

    Getreading

    BBC Online Reading

  • 16th August, BBC Gays in the pink over trust move, more

  • 2nd August, In loving memory of Margo McLennan who passed away last week, BBC online pays tribute to a wonderful lady, more

  • 29th July, The Herald in Scotland on Gay Weddings with the National Trust for Scotland, find out more

  • 29th July, Have your say. The Daily Mail are running a poll about "gay marriages" click and vote now

  • 28th July, Scottish National Trust gives gay wedding support
    find out more

  • 27th July, The National Trust for Scotland welcomes Pink Weddings. more
  • 26th July, Gay couples to commit with Pride, Reading Pride feature on BBC Online. more

  • 20th July Reading Evening Post, Gay couples to ‘tie knot' at Reading Pride, sponsored by Pink Weddings. more

  • 9th July, The launch of the Pink Weddings list in Brighton and Hove find out more

  • 6th July, Scottish B&B owner sticks to his guns more

  • 2nd July, The Guardian speaks to Pink Weddings find out more

    More from the Guardian today
    Courting Couples
    The packages of rights are not equal


  • 1st July, Homophobic B&B Cromasaig guesthouse in western Scotland, struck off tourist board list find out more

  • 1st July, British Airways threatened with boycott over Lords amendment. find out more

  • 4th June, Gay rights plan suffers in Lords.

    BBC Report

    Gay.com Report

  • March 31st 2004, Civil Partnerships Bill unveiled today, more

  • Brighton Pride, Bless me, gay couples compete to commit at Brighton Pride. Find out more

  • Southern Pride 2004, If you're looking for an action-packed event to go to in the south of England on Bank Holiday Monday, August 30th, then look no further than Southern Pride at the Canford Park Arena in Poole. Find out more

  • 7th June, Pink Weddings and Sunvil Holidays joins forces to offer the the gay community some exciting holidays with style. more

  • 25th May, Civil Partnerships: amendment could save pension rights, find out more

  • 22nd May, Pink Weddings and Guthrie Castle to offer gay weddings. Grampion TV feature, news video and see the castle.

  • 17th May, Sky News - Should gay weddings be legal, have your say and vote. Voting stops on the 22nd May Vote Now

  • 17th May, Gay councillor chairs Brighton Equalities forum; calls for more LGBT participation more

  • 10th May, Bingham Cup - Update

  • 4th May, Pink Weddings sponsors Reading Pride more

  • 22nd April - Lords back Civil Partnerships Bill more

  • 22nd April - Civil Partnerships Bill enters Lords more

  • Pink Weddings sponsors the Bingham Cup 2004 more

  • The Guardian - Civil Partnership coverage. More

  • Stonewall welcomes "twenty-first century" Civil Partnership Bill, find out more

  • The Governments response to the Civil Partnership consultation process more

  • March 28th 2004, Pink Weddings on BBC Radio 5 LIve with Richard Bacon and Andre Walker - more and the Sunday Times Story

  • Coverage about the Gay Wedding Show from our friends across the waters in Italy. More

  • March 22nd 2004, Tories split over Civil Partnerships more

  • March 21st 2004, Independent on Sunday - Gay weddings on increase as 1,000 couples 'tie the knot' more

  • March 19th 2004, London cabs drop Sandals adverts more

  • March 2004, China sees first transexual wedding more

  • March 2004, Iceland pushes for gay marriages more

  • March 2004, Same-sex marriages accepted by UK immigration? more

  • Gay Woman covers the Gay Wedding Show more

  • 11th March The Birmimgham Post - Villa and Blues to host same sex ceremonies more

  • The Mag online covers the Gay Wedding Show more

  • Gay weddings come out of the closet, BBC Online covers the recent launch of the Gay Wedding Show more

  • Gay weddings come out of the closet, BBC Online for our Czech friends more

  • Sex warfare breaks out in US election more

  • Rosie O'Donnell Weds Lesbian Partner more

  • Pink Weddings to launch the UK's first Gay wedding show find out more

  • Gay.com feature on the Gay Wedding Show more
  • Labour slams Tories over housing rights - The Labour party has released a statement slamming Conservatives, after members of the opposition party voted against a same-sex equality clause in the proposed Housing Bill. Find out more

  • The 8 BC couples who took Canada's federal gov't to court to fight for same-sex marriage rights are launching their web site take a look and share in their joy more

  • Gender bill victory in House of Lords more

  • Manchester gay men more likely to want parenthood more

  • 12th Feb Church debate indicates positive movements towards gay acceptance more

  • 11th Feb Church must resolve "gay divisions" to maintain credibility more

  • YOUR HELP IS NEEDED, Are gay rights human rights? more
  • Scotland sees first commitment ceremonies more

  • 8th Dec, NATIONAL TRUST PROPERTIES AVAILABLE THROUGH PINK WEDDINGS, more details or take me to the Page

  • The Times reports "Tax rights of gay couples 'ignored'" more

  • The Guardian reports "Gay relationships to gain official recognition" more

  • 27th Nov Rainbow Network report on "Civil Partnership Discriminations" more

  • 26th Nov Gay.com reports "Queen announces civil partnerships; gay rights groups divided" more

  • 26th Nov BBC reports "Gay groups hail partnership bill" more

  • Within the Queen's speech today 26th Nov more

  • BBC Radio 4, The Diary Room (24th Nov) visits a gay couple getting married in Manchester, hear how the day went listen

  • Civil partnerships: bill unveiled this Wednesday? more

  • Landmark ruling allows gay marriage in US more

  • Civil partnerships for gay couples to be in Queen's Speech more

  • What is the Queen's speech more

  • Barnsley shake up sees gay weddings more

  • BBC Radio Five Live 25th October more

  • October issue Pink Newsletter

  • Want to see your special day on the TV? more

  • Get your hands on a copy of Bent Magazine and read all about us in a feature kindly placed to promote Pink Weddings

  • Gay "wedding" rocks Russian church more

  • Pink Weddings in the Surrey Mirror more

  • Pink Weddings in the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertisermore

  • Pink Weddings joins Confetti.co.uk in supplying information on their site for Gay Weddings more

  • Catch us in The Mag, the gay and lesbian magazine for Hampshire The Mag

  • September issue Pink Newsletter

  • President George Bush won’t bend on gay marriage more

  • New rights for gay couples more

  • Pink Wedding feature on The Rainbow Network.com

  • Ringo's lesbian stepdaughter to marry lover more

  • Marriage rights for gay couples more

  • Gay partners rush to register at town halls more

  • Gay Weddings - Has The World Caught Up Yet? more

  • Embassy Ceremonies more

  • Charter Pledge - Birmingham more

  • Gay couples 'to get equal rights' more

 

 

Spain's Government approves Gay Marriage - couples could wed as soon as June 2005

Spain's Government approves Gay Marriage

Spain's socialist government approved a bill today to legalise same sex marriages, putting the predominantly Roman Catholic country on course to become only the third country to recognise gay marriages.

Under the bill gay couples will be allowed to adopt children, inherit from one another as well as receiving retirement benefits from their working spouses in the same way as opposite sex couples do now.

Since taking office in April, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez  Zapatero has vowed to institute deep changes on social issues after eight years of conservative rule. On the day he was confirmed as Prime Minister, he vowed to Parliament to allow gay marriage and fight discrimination against homosexuals.

Same sex couples could be able to start marrying in Spain as soon as June 2005.

Gino Meriano, Founder of Pink Weddings, says
“it's a great moment for Spain and Europe adding another country to the list demonstrating equality to same sex couples.  We are pleased to continue to lead the way for gay and lesbian couples around Europe by offering gay weddings in Spain for 2005, watch this space.”

Spain will join Belgium and the Netherlands in legalising gay marriages.

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NATIONAL TRUST FOR SCOTLAND WELCOMES PINK WEDDINGS

Information on National Trust for Scotland properties is now available on the Pink Weddings website. A great number of Trust properties offer facilities for wedding ceremonies and receptions and are also available for a wide range of celebrations from christenings and Bar Mitzvahs, to wedding anniversaries and birthday parties. They provide ideal backdrops for the most memorable photos.

The venues range from the finest historic houses and gorgeous gardens to stunning castles and atmospheric abbeys.

The ceremonies offered by Pink Weddings are non-religious and non–statutory so do not require a civil licence.

Several of the properties available for wedding receptions also have National Trust for Scotland holiday cottages on their estates that are perfect for guests staying during the celebrations and a romantic break before or after.

The National Trust for Scotland was established in 1931 to act as guardian of the nation's magnificent heritage of architectural, scenic and historic treasures and to promote public enjoyment of them. In its care are 127 properties covering 76,000 hectares and representing much of the best of Scotland 's heritage.

National Trust for Scotland

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Bless me, gay couples compete to commit at Brighton Pride

The Man Around Travel Group www.manaround.com, Britain 's leading tour operator serving the gay community, is offering seven same-sex couples the chance to exchange vows and have their relationships sealed with an official kiss of approval at this year's Brighton Pride.

One of the lucky couples will also win a four-day deluxe honeymoon to Quebec , courtesy of Man Around.

The Pride event will mark the largest number of same-sex commitment ceremonies ever carried out in Brighton & Hove on a single day. And while the venue may be a wonderfully camp Pink Pavilion in the grounds of Preston Park, the half-hour ceremonies which will be carried out in front of family and friends will be completely serious, says Trevor Love from Brighton & Hove City Council Registry Office who will be one of the officiating celebrants.

Although the commitment ceremonies will not alter the legal status of those involved, such a high-profile event will help keep up the pressure for proposed changes in UK law which should eventually lead to full legal recognition of same-sex couples, says Mr Love. He added: “We want Brighton & Hove to become the Pink Weddings Capital of the Country.”

Man Around's sponsorship of the commitment ceremonies at Brighton Pride is in association with Destination Quebec www.quebec4u.co.uk – a province which already grants gay couples full legal rights - Pink Weddings, the UK's first dedicated gay weddings company - Pink Products, the UK's first gay and lesbian wedding online store.

Man Around's Chairman Gabriele Neroni said: “We're delighted to be involved in such a happy and high-profile event. We hope the Pink Pavilion can become a regular feature of Brighton Pride.”

Each of the couples taking part in the commitment ceremonies will receive official photographs, a glass of celebratory champagne and a certificate. Each blessing will be marked with an explosion of pink balloons and confetti.

Same-sex partners (both male and female) who want to enter the Man Around/Brighton Pride competition need to apply in writing detailing why they should be chosen, how they first met and how long they have been together. Applications will also need to be accompanied by a photograph showing the couple on a recent holiday.  Full details of the competition are available on the Brighton Pride website at: www.brightonpride.org

One of the couple will be chosen as Pride's “Couple of the Year” based on their personalities and outfits worn for the ceremony – and win the four-day honeymoon to Quebec .


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Pink Weddings and Sunvil Holidays

Pink Weddings are proud to announce their partnership with Sunvil Holidays in offering the gay community small, intimate hotels to opulent villas.

Sunvil Holidays has been operating since 1970. Their ethos is to offer good quality holidays to areas away from the mainstream. Coupled with civilised travel arrangements, accurate information and the specialist’s traditional strengths of in-depth local knowledge, choice and flexibility, they aim to provide couples with precisely the holiday – or honeymoon – that they seek.

Says, Gino Meriano, founder of Pink Weddings “We constantly seek perfection and believe it’s been found with Sunvil Holidays for the simple fact they offer quality holidays, exclusive villas and tailor made packages that suit our couples.

From Antigua to Zambia to Greece Pink Weddings and Sunvil Holidays offers couples a holiday of a lifetime or that extra special getaway after their wedding day.”

With dedication and commitment Sunvil Holidays have launched an exclusive reservations line for Pink Weddings’ couples 020 8758 4737 and an e mail enquiry service.

Take a peak

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Pink Weddings sponsors Reading Pride

September 4th 2004 sees the anticipated Reading Pride 2004 - the first Pride Event ever to be held in Royal County of Berkshire! Reading Pride is a FREE festival for Berkshire's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community.

Featuring a park-site Festival, we are expecting the event to attract people from all over Berkshire and beyond!

Held in Reading's riverside Kings Meadow Park from Midday till late,

Reading Pride plans to celebrate diversity in a blissfully relaxed atmosphere!

For further information click Reading Pride and see you there

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Pink Weddings on BBC Radio Five live
Pink Weddings were invited to attend a lively debate about the forth coming Civil Partership on the Richard Bacon Show, the show offered great support from callers about the issues behind legal rights for same sex couples. Andre Walker, an aide to the Tory vice-chairman Andrew Rosindell made his points against the Civil Partnership heard, read the story in the Sunday Times

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Villa and Blues to host same sex ceremonies

Aston Villa and Birmingham City have volunteered to host gay and lesbian ceremonies at their grounds.

Same sex couples will be able to take part in the commitment ceremonies from April 3rd.

Other venues across the city which have also agreed which have also agreed to host ceremonies include the Alexandra Theatre, the Warwickshire County Cricket Club ground in Edgbaston, the Hyatt Hotel, the Boathouse at Sutton Park and the Botanical Gardens in Edgbaston.

They will be held by a trained celebrant from Birmingham City Council

Gino Meriano, who runs Pink Weddings, a company that arranges same sex ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples said Birmingham venues initially had been slow to provide the service.

Until earlier this year, he said only one venue had been willing to host same sex ceremonies. Now there is a list of 22, with music, readings and declarations marking the occasion.

“It is great news to see that so many venues will participate in commitment ceremonies,” he said.

“It is long overdue and it is great to see Birmingham City Council has made these steps forward, Up until earlier this year it was only really Jonathon’s Hotel on the Hagley Road who were willing to hold them.”

He said it was hugely important to be able to offer a range of places will to stage the ceremonies.

There will be no public register of the services until the government later this year considers proposals to give same sex ceremonies legal status.

The council is also introducing reaffirmation of wedding vows and baby naming services.

By Emma Pinch, Birmingham Post

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The Gay Wedding Show

Pink Weddings in association with Pink Products is proud to announce the UK’s first dedicated gay wedding show, bringing together gay and gay friendly suppliers, leading specialists and couples to create an event for the gay and lesbian community looking to seal their commitment and make their ceremony and celebration memorable.

The first of many shows for 2004/2005 is planned for later this year in the UK’s widely recognised gay capital of the South, Brighton

The show will offer couples the chance to experience a fashion show with a twist, hear from experts and speakers on a range of topics from the facts about the Government’s Civil Partnerships plans, the legal and financial implications right the way to the future of gay and lesbian unions and even some stunning ideas to make a couples day sparkle.

Gino Meriano, founder of Pink Weddings says “it’s not unusual for Pink Weddings to introduce new and refreshing ideas. This is a natural step forward in raising awareness and bringing people together with a genuine interest in same sex couples. The show will be a great opportunity to meet the people behind the scenes, find out what’s available before and after the Governments Civil Partnership legislation is passed and at the same time have some fun”.

All the proceeds from the estimated £1 ticket charge will be donated to Gay and Lesbian charities.

Further details will be launched on a new website coming soon in March 2004, so continue to watch this space.

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YOUR HELP IS NEEDED, Are gay rights human rights?

Next March, 53 nations will sit at the United Nations in Geneva to discuss, argue, vote and then publicly declare if they believe sexual orientation is a human right or not.

In other words, they will say if being Lesbian, Gay, Transgender or Bisexual is a human right.

This will undoubtly "make the news" next March because it is such a controversial issue.

What can you do about it?

ILGA plans to use the internet to mobilize as many people as possible. A website has been set up: http://www.brazilianresolution.com Please sign our petition and leave your email address if you wish to receive more information.

ILGA will present the petition to the press and the United Nations.

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NATIONAL TRUST PROPERTIES AVAILABLE THROUGH PINK WEDDINGS

National Trust properties could soon be available as venues for same sex wedding ceremonies.

Following an approach from Pink Weddings, the UK’s leading gay-owned and dedicated same sex wedding company, the Trust has agreed to enable its properties to be marketed through the Pink Weddings website.

The ceremonies offered by Pink Weddings are non-religious and non–statutory so do not require a civil licence.

The National Trust, Europe’s largest conservation charity, offers the widest choice ever of beautiful and unusual venues in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for couples seeking a truly breathtaking backdrop for their special day.

Many also provide superb facilities for the reception and photography afterwards.

The venues range from the finest historic houses and gorgeous gardens to stunning castles and atmospheric abbeys.

Several of the properties licensed for weddings or available for wedding receptions also have National Trust holiday cottages on their estates that are perfect for guests staying during the celebrations or a romantic break afterwards.

The National Trust’s properties are also available for an unlimited range of celebrations, from christenings and Bar Mitzvahs, to wedding anniversaries and birthday parties.

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Tax rights of gay couples 'ignored'
By Frances Gibb, Legal Editor

CIVIL PARTNERS

PLANS to give same-sex couples legal rights akin to those of marriage came under fire from both the gay and heterosexual lobbies last night.

The Civil Partnership Bill will create a scheme of civil partnerships for same-sex couples, the first legal recognition. But while campaigners hailed the Bill, they expressed concern that the proposals may fail to address discrimination over inheritance tax.

The Bill, which will cover England and Wales, is not expected to use the term “ marriage”, but it will allow same-sex couples to sign an official document at a register office. It will allow gays to benefit from a dead partner’s pension, give next-of-kin rights and the right to a home tenancy.

But the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association said it was not clear that the Bill would address tax discrimination. “If one partner dies, the deceased’s estate has to pay full inheritance tax if left to the same-sex partner whereas married heterosexual couples are exempt,” it said. “Likewise, if one person gives assets to their gay partner they could be liable to capital gains tax.

“The Government is hoping that the gay community will not notice it is being short-changed.”

The Department of Trade and Industry said the tax situation would be addressed “as part of the Budget process”.

The Law Society complained that the Government had failed to deal with the issue of cohabiting heterosexual couples. “When such partnerships end the outcome can be unfair,” it said.

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Gay relationships to gain official recognition

Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
Thursday November 27, 2003
The Guardian

A new bill will allow gay and lesbian couples to register their unions as "civil partnerships", giving them most of the rights enjoyed by married couples, but without creating "gay marriages".
Couples will sign an official document at a register office in front of the registrar and two witnesses. Responses to a consultation paper on the proposals, issued in June, found that eight out of 10 people supported the reforms.

The changes, which apply in England and Wales, will allow a registered partner to benefit from a dead partner's pension, grant next-of-kin rights in hospitals, and give the same exemption as married couples have from inheritance tax on each other's estate.

They would also have the right to register their partner's death and be able to inherit a tenancy of a rented home.

Ministers stressed that gay couples would be expected to meet responsibilities, as well as gain rights. For example, they would be able to gain parental responsibility for each other's children and be obliged to support each other financially.

Gay couples would not be able to register if they were already in a marriage or civil partnership. The partnerships are expected be available to those aged over 16, although 16- and 17-year-olds would need a parent or guardian's consent.

There are also expected to be limitations mirroring the incest laws in heterosexual marriage, so that same-sex civil partnerships would be prohibited in certain circumstances, such as between blood or half-blood relations, or adopted relatives.

A bill to allow transsexuals to be issued with new birth certificates and to marry in their adopted sex was not announced, but is likely to be introduced during the parliamentary session.

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Queen announces civil partnerships; gay rights groups divided

The Queen has opened parliament by announcing that MPs will debate the issue of civil partnerships for same sex couples in the coming session.

Speaking in her annual speech, where she outlines the key bills from the government, the Queen said the bill would help increase social justice across England and Wales.

"My Government will maintain its commitment to increased equality and social justice by bringing forward legislation on the registration of civil partnerships between same sex couples," she told the House of Lords.

The majority of gay and civil rights groups were celebrating the announcement today, with Stonewall releasing a statement saying the pledge is a "hugely significant milestone".

Chief executive Ben Summerskill added that on behalf of the organisation he was "delighted".

"Hundreds of thousands of gay couples have undergone real suffering because the law does not recognise their long-term relationships," he said.

"It remains shocking that same-sex couples, some in relationships decades long, have been deprived until now of basic rights such as the ability to share a pension or register a partner's death."

However Summerskill warned that the fight for equality is not over yet, expressing a widely held fear that despite the good intentions of MPs, the House of Lords may prove to be an obstacle to the bill becoming law.

He said the "main anxiety" came from the Lords' "willingness in the past to frustrate fair treatment for gay people".

"We hope the government will move swiftly so that this injustice can be righted as soon as possible," he said, before adding that the group also hopes "that peers will back a move long overdue in a twenty-first century nation".

But the Queen's Speech was met with dismay by some gay groups, who were hoping that the government would alter what they see as a major fault in the bill.

The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) said, as it stands, the proposed law would leave same sex couples liable to more inheritance and capital gains tax than married couples.

Spokesman Terry Sanderson said the group hopes that the issue is "not a prelude to (the government) quietly reneging on this vital issue".

“These omissions seriously undermine the partnership proposals. If the Government want the gay community to believe its claims about equality, then it needs to think again, and formally undertake to give gay couples the same exemptions as married couples in both inheritance and capital gains tax before these proposals become law,” Sanderson added.

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Within the Queen's speech today 26th Nov

"My government will maintain its commitment to increased equality and social justice by bringing forward legislation on the registration of civil partnerships between same sex couples"

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Civil partnerships: bill unveiled this Wednesday?

The bill that will give rights to same sex couples for the first time is set to be unveiled on Wednesday, after the general public showed such strong support for proposals.

The civil partnership bill will enter parliamentary debate after it has been announced in the Queen's Speech, along with other radical reforms. If passed, it will give same sex couples in England and Wales similar rights to married heterosexuals, including employment and pension benefits, inheritance and parental rights, and immigration recognition.

Its unveiling follows the release of comments made during the consultation period of the proposals, which revealed that more than 80% of people supported a more equal approach to gay and lesbian couples in terms of the law.

Dissenting voices came from religious organisations, which were worried that the resulting law could be all but marriage in name and would go against biblical teachings.

However, this weekend, the former Archbishop of Canterbury expressed his support for the idea and urged other religious bodies to recognise the need for legal change.

Speaking on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost, George Carey said there was nothing "sinister" about same sex relationships or homosexuality. He was keen, however, to point out that at no term should the term "marriage" be used in relation to the bill, because of its religious connotations.

"As long as we don't call it marriage, because marriage for me and for many people is a relationship between a man and a woman for life. It is not to do with same-sex relationships," he said.

"But there may well be a case for looking sympathetically at civil partnerships."

At present, the only obstacle facing the bill is the exemption of heterosexual people. The government says that existing alternative schemes cater for straight couples that do not wish to get married but would like similar rights.

But many civil rights groups said other relationships should be included in the bill, rather than limiting it purely to gay and lesbian couples.

Gay.com 24th November 2003

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Landmark ruling allows gay marriage in US

Supreme Court showdown on the cards after decision in Massachusetts

Something to celebrate: Julie Goodridge, left, Hillary Goodridge after the ruling. Now the women will able to marry

THE highest court in Massachusetts forced gay marriage to the top of America’s political agenda yesterday with a landmark ruling recognising homosexuals’ legal right to marry. The decison makes Massachusetts the first state to recognise gay marriage.

Rewriting the legal definition of marriage, the 4-3 majority said: “We construe civil marriage to mean the voluntary union of two persons as spouses, to the exclusion of all others.”

Rather than issuing marriage licences immediately to the seven same-sex couples who sued, however, the court gave the state legislature 180 days to change the law.

However, President Bush insisted last night that marriage was “a sacred institution between a man and a woman” and that the court ruling violated that principle. “I will work with congressional leaders and others to do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage,” Mr Bush said in London.

Indeed, the ruling sets the stage for a showdown that is likely to go to the US Supreme Court and make gay marriage a political hot potato in the presidential election campaign.

It raises a raft of legal questions, such as how states that do not recognise same-sex marriages will treat those couples who have married in Massachussetts, and would gay couples be eligible for federal benefits paid to heterosexual couples? Gay rights advocates hailed the Massachusetts ruling as a significant step in a struggle that they compare to the civil rights movement to end discrimination against blacks.

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the group that brought the case on behalf of the couples, posted a jubilant message on its website declaring: “We Won!”

Josh Friedes, of the state’s Freedom to Marry coalition, said: “Gay and lesbian couples will soon be able to go to bed at night knowing they have the same protections as every other family in Massachusetts.

“That is particularly good for our children, who have been living without the safety net other children enjoy. It’s also important for elderly gays and lesbians, who need the 1,400 benefits married couples have.”

Conservative and Christian groups see recent court rulings on homosexuality, such as the US Supreme Court’s decision in June to strike down a Texas anti-sodomy law, as an example of the judicial activism that led to the legalisation of abortion in 1973.

Jan LaRue, chief counsel of Concerned Woman of America, called the Massachusetts court “judicial tyrants”. “The court has made up this ruling out of whole cloth,” she said.

Hoping to short-circuit further rulings, more than 760,000 people have signed an online petition calling for a federal constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage. Conservative activists are vowing to make it a litmus-test in the presidential campaign.

Leading Democratic candidates include Howard Dean, who signed the nation’s first civil-union law as Governor of Vermont, Dick Gephardt, who has a lesbian daughter, and Senator John Kerry, of Massachusetts. All back conferring benefits on same-sex couples, but stop short of endorsing gay marriage.

A poll by the Pew Research Centre found that American opposition to gay marriage is hardening — 59 per cent are now against it and 32 per cent in favour. In July 53 per cent were against.

The Massachusetts case, known as Goodridge and others versus the Department of Health, was brought by couples denied marriage licences by the state. The lead plaintiffs were Hillary and Julie Goodridge, a lesbian couple who chose a common surname before the birth of their child. When their daughter was rushed to intensive care, Hillary was barred from seeing the mother and child because she was not a legal relative.

Marriage falls within the jurisdiction of states, rather than the federal Government. Courts in Hawaii and Alaska have approved gay marriage, but the state legislatures amended the state constitutions to limit marriage to men and women. The state that has come closest to same-sex marriage is Vermont, which created the institution of civil union in response to a similar court ruling in 1999.

Massachusetts politicians could try to amend the state constitution to bar gay marriage — which would take at least two years — but a previous attempt failed. By rewriting the definition of marriage, the ruling yesterday appeared to go further than the Vermont decision and make it difficult for the Massachusetts legislature to get away with approving civil unions.

Brian Fahling, a lawyer for the conservative American Family Association, predicted that the whole question of gay marriage would eventually come before the US Supreme Court, even though it is primarily a state matter. “It’s going to trigger a constitutional crisis when same-sex couples who obtain marriage licences in Massachusetts go to states which do not recognise gay marriage,” he said. “ That will have to be resolved by the US Supreme Court.”

Same-sex laws overseas

Same-sex marriages are recognised in Belgium, the Netherlands, and in Ontario and British Columbia, Canada

The Queen’s Speech next week in expected to include the announcement of the Civil Partnerships Bill, which proposes that same-sex couples be granted the same legal status as married couples

Seven other European countries — including France, Germany and Spain — allow same-sex couples to register their partnerships and to receive some of the benefits available to married heterosexual couples

In July Croatia passed legislation granting same-sex couples the same legal standing as unmarried heterosexual couples

Homosexual and lesbian couples in Tel Aviv who declare their relationships are entitled to receive the same discounts in city leisure centres and museums as married heterosexual couples

The Taiwanese Government is to debate proposals that include the legalisation of gay marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples. Taiwan would be the first Asian country to legitimise gay marriage
19th Nov The Times
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Civil partnerships for gay couples to be in Queen's Speech

The Government's bill to allow gay and lesbian couples who register their partnership the same rights as straight married couples is expected to be included in the Queen's Speech next week.

The bill, which follows a consultation paper published over the summer, will allow couples to register their relationship at a register office. Registered couples would be able to take parental responsibility for one another's children, as well as ensuring that pension rights only available to married couples can also be claimed by a gay or lesbian partner.

A family law expert told The Times newspaper: "The reform will be a huge symbolic step with real practical advantages for same-sex couples; the State is recognising and sanctioning same-sex relationships as deserving equal treatment. [It] would, in effect, be virtually the same as marriage, but as yet the tax treatment isn't guaranteed to be the same."

Although it was widely reported as part of the proposal published in the summer, exemption from inheritance was only mentioned in passing in the paper's executive summary, and did not appear within the text of the paper. It is believed that it will either be incorporated in the initial bill, or presented separately by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a budget speech.

News of the bill has been welcomes by gay legal experts. Lord Lester of Herne Hill, QC, the Liberal Democrat peer, said: "If this is in the Queen’s Speech — and I would be very disappointed if it is not — then of course it is very welcome. It’s a great step forward for gay couples."

Martin Bowley QC, a founding member of the Bar Lesbian and Gay Group, ackowledged the importance of the proposed reforms, saying: "At the moment we take on all the responsibilities that a married couple do, but we have none of the rights.

Bowley quoted an Appeal Court ruling by Lord Justice Ward, which ruled that a gay man could inherit his partner's flat. "The question is more what a family does than what a family is. A family unit is a social unit which functions through linking its members closely together."

But the proposed partnerships scheme has not been warmly welcomed by all. Church officials have condemned the move, saying that it risks intoducing a form of "same-sex marriage", while many political campaigners have suggested that partnerships should also be available to opposite-sex couples who wish to acknowledge their relationship without marrying.
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What is the Queen's Speech and what does it mean?

Wednesday 5 November 2003 Labour Site

At the start of every parliamentary session, the Queen attends parliament and reads out a script containing the government's plans for the year ahead.

This year the ceremony, called the State Opening of Parliament, and broadcast live on television and the internet, takes place on Wednesday 26 November.

The Queen's Speech usually takes place in November as a new session of Parliament begins, and always the week after a general election.

It dates back to times when the King or Queen chose the laws to be debated in Parliament. Although the Queen still makes the speech today, it is the government that draws up the content.

Before the State Opening, the cellars of the Palace of Westminster are searched by the Yeomen of the Guard - a precaution dating back to the Gunpowder Plot of November 1605.

On the day, the Queen arrives from Buckingham Palace and enters the Palace of Westminster by the Sovereign's Entrance. From there she goes into the Royal Robing Room where she puts on her Crown and ceremonial robes. She then goes through the Royal Gallery to take her place on the throne in the House of Lords.

All of the Lords wear their Parliamentary robes. Black Rod, in his distinctive black costume, is sent to the House of Commons to summon MPs.

When Black Rod arrives, the door is always slammed in his face and he has to knock three times on the door before he is allowed in. This tradition symbolises the right of the Commons to debate without interference. The Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition then lead all the MPs into the House of Lords. The Lord Chancellor hands the speech to the Queen who reads it out.

When the speech ends, the MPs return to their Chamber to debate its contents.

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Barnsley shake up sees gay weddings

A shake up of Barnsley's council legislation will give same sex couples the right to marry in civil ceremonies, it was announced yesterday.

The decision, made by the council, means that couples can now officially celebrate their relationship in front of families and friends, a spokesperson said.

"The ceremony can be tailored to suit the couple's personal wishes and they are encouraged to consider the contents of the ceremony," he added.

Same sex marriage is not legally recognised by UK law, although the government is currently considering a civil partnerships bill.

However, in the lead up to this becoming full law, councils across the country have started announcing similar commitment ceremonies.

Barnsley's neighbour Sheffield is currently discussing the best way of introducing such events into their town halls and registry office.
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Pink Weddings on BBC Radio five live

The subject - revamp of marriage vows
revamp of marriage vows. Should couples be required to renegotiate their wedding contract every five years? Pink Weddings were invited on BBC Radio five live to discuss the options available to the Gay and Lesbian market. Wiithout legalisation how do couples make their commitment as stable as possible with the limited options made available to them

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Pink Weddings in the Surrey Mirror


Regional headlines

'Marriage' for East Surrey gays Sep 30 2003

By Helen Backway


LESBIAN and gay couples in East Surrey can get "married" in Charlwood after the launch of a ground-breaking company in the county.

Billing itself as the first gay-dedicated wedding services company, Pink Weddings has just launched in Surrey.

Gay and lesbian weddings are not legally binding in this country, but the ceremony aims to give couples the chance to stand up in front of friends and family and show their commitment to each other.

Registry offices in Surrey do not offer a partnership registration for same-sex couples, so Pink Weddings has been looking for venues in the area that would conduct a commitment ceremony.

The Stanhill Court Hotel is one location that has agreed to hold the commitment ceremonies.

A spokesman for the company said they just "fell in love" with the Stanhill Court Hotel, which already carried out civil ceremonies.

Although no ceremonies have yet taken place at the hotel on Stan Hill, everything is set up should any couple want to take the plunge.

The service offered by Pink Weddings can include readings and the couple receive a certificate signed by the celebrant, themselves and possibly any witnesses.

Although the company is the first gay-dedicated wedding services company in the county, it is unclear whether same-sex ceremonies have already taken place organised by the couples themselves.

Pink Weddings not only provides the celebrant for the non-religious service but also organises everything for the day, such as flowers and photography.

A spokesman said the company aims to offer not just a service. "It is a matter of raising aware-ness," he said.

For more information visit web-site www.pinkweddings.biz or call 01932 571286.

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Pink Weddings launches in Surrey

Comment: Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser Oct 2 2003

A MOLE VALLEY village could be the first to host same-sex marriages after a company called Pink Weddings announced it hopes to host such events at Stanhill Court Hotel.

Although in some quarters this is bound to cause controversy, our district prides itself on friendliness and perhaps a more laid-back rural attitude than the cold urbanity of London.

This being the case it makes sense for the Charlwood hotel to be the first in Surrey to provide the venue for gay couples and the district to be a fitting venue for their special day.

Local authorities and businesses are working hard to bring visitors to the district, and Mole Valley should value its ability to attract tourists of every kind to this area of outstanding natural beauty.

While gay and lesbian weddings are not yet legally binding in this country, the ceremony will be one of the most important events in the life of those taking part and we should be pleased that they would choose Mole Valley as the backdrop.

Our district, with Polesden Lacey, Denbies Vineyard, and the many other popular sites across the Surrey Hills really does gave something for every visitor to the English countryside.

Let us make sure that we give a warm welcome to any person who visits Mole Valley, regardless of denomination, inclination or manifestation of their particular wedding plans.

It should be the greatest day of the lucky couples' lives and we should do our very best to ensure that it is.

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New rights for gay couples

Gay and lesbian couples will be awarded the same rights as married couples, under plans being outlined by the government.
These will include pension and property entitlements if couples register their commitment in a civil ceremony.

The moves will give next-of-kin rights in hospitals, allow gays to benefit from a dead partner's pension and exempt them from inheritance tax on a partner's home.

However, the changes have been criticised by human rights campaigners who complain that heterosexual non-married couples are discriminated against.

Veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell described the plans, contained in a consultation document to be published on Monday, as "heterophobic" and "retrograde".

"It is divisive, heterophobic and discriminatory to exclude unmarried heterosexual couples," he said.

"Cohabiting heterosexuals also lack legal recognition and protection. This is a grave injustice."

He added: "It is a pity the government has opted for an unimaginative, watered down version of marriage, instead of having the foresight to devise an entirely new, modern legal framework for partnership recognition."

'Bare minimum'

Liberal Democrat equality spokesman Evan Harris also criticised the government for ignoring unmarried heterosexual partners while welcoming the recognition for same sex couples.

There is already a legal opportunity for heterosexual couples through marriage to have their relationship recognised

Jacqui Smith
Minister for women and equality

"It is typical that the government has only done the bare minimum," he said.

"The decision to exclude opposite sex couples from claiming the rights conferred by civil partnerships will be a bitter disappointment to hundreds of thousands of heterosexual unmarried couples.

"Currently the government treat them as married when cutting their benefits, but ministers are clearly refusing to reciprocate when it comes to pension sharing."

Recognising relationships

But Jacqui Smith, minister for women and equality, denied the plan was discriminatory.

"There are thousands of couples across the country living together in stable, committed, same sex relationships who have no legal opportunity, unlike heterosexual couples through marriage, to have their relationships recognised by the law," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We think that's unfair. It doesn't promote the sort of stable and long term relationships that we want to see ....

"We are making it possible for same sex couples to have a legal recognition of their relationship, bringing with it the sorts of rights and responsibilities that I think people owe to each other in long term relationships and which will then be able to be recognised in the law.

"It won't be the same as marriage, of course it will be slightly different, but what it will share is the responsibilities and the rights, recognised in law, that I think it's important for the government to put in place."

Stonewall 'delighted'

Ms Smith said gay couples would not have to live together for a certain length of time to be eligible for the rights.

If the relationship broke up it would go through a dissolution process, she added.

Gay rights group Stonewall was "delighted" with the plan.

Chief executive Ben Summerskill said: "It's not just social status that matters, like the right to visit each other in hospital, but the right to share a partner's pension, for example."

He said that was "something available to every heterosexual".

The BBC's Kim Catcheside says the move will not find favour in some religious circles, with the Church of England split in its opinion of the issue.

"These proposals will only exacerbate these divisions," she said.

As reported by BBC News online www.bbc.co.uk 30th June 03
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Ringo's lesbian stepdaughter to marry love

AS Nelle Porter, the cold-hearted blonde lawyer known as the Ice Princess in the television series Ally McBeal, Portia de Rossi inspired both loathing and lust among viewers. Now, as she prepares to marry her lesbian lover Francesca Gregorini, the stepdaughter of the former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, the Australian actress has been transformed into an unwitting heroine for American gay women who are demanding marriage rights.

The wedding of de Rossi, 30, and the 34-year-old singer- songwriter daughter of the former Bond girl Barbara Bach, is expected to take place in the next few months. De Rossi has said she wants children and Starr has given his blessing to the match, telling friends he and and his wife are looking forward to grandchildren. Last week's decision by the Canadian government to allow gay marriages has raised the possibility that the wedding may be held in Starr's seaside house in Vancouver. The couple, who met two years ago, have colourful pasts. De Rossi dropped out of law school in Sydney a decade ago and divorced her husband, an Australian film technician, to find fame in Hollywood. Her first big role was opposite Hugh Grant in the 1994 film Sirens. Asked whether they were having an affair, Grant replied: "Do you have any idea how funny that rumour is?" The remark was not widely understood for several years. Gregorini, the Roman-born daughter of an Italian industrialist, went to university in New England with the daughters of Diana Ross and Jane Fonda. Then she started a boutique with Carolina Herrera and Tatiana von Furstenberg, both daughters of renowned fashion designers. There was a turbulent side to her. Starr reportedly sent her home from a rock tour after she started a lesbian affair with a musician.

Earlier this year, however, Gregorini - who says she became a lesbian at 19 - bought a £1.5m house with de Rossi in the fashionable Los Angeles district of Los Feliz. "She is putting her wild days behind her," said a business associate. "They are wearing matching platinum rings and have gone shopping in Bond Street in London with Barbara Bach, and now we are waiting for them to set the date." So is America's gay press. "Straight people have had Brad and Jennifer: this will be our first big celebrity wedding," said an editor on The Advocate, a gay magazine. Canada is the third country, after Belgium and the Netherlands, to allow gay marriages. The British government plans to extend tax, pension and property rights to homosexuals who register long-term relationships. In the United States, by contrast, such changes are introduced one state at a time, always following court actions led by women. Since the state of Vermont allowed a civil ceremony three years ago, two-thirds of the 5,600 same-sex couples who have married have been female. Most surveys suggest there are twice as many gay men as women, a conundrum that has baffled biologists, but this is changing. In 1998 a National Opinion Research Center poll found that 3.3% of American men described themselves as gay, compared with 2.1% of women.

A forthcoming update is expected to show near-parity. Celebrity weddings such as de Rossi's may encourage more lesbians to acknowledge their sexuality. Dr Ronnie Sanlo, a social researcher, said prominent gay women, such as Mary Cheney, daughter of Vice-President Dick Cheney, and Chrissie Gephardt, daughter of Dick Gephardt, the Democratic presidential candidate, already symbolised a higher public profile for lesbians in America. "We may end up with gay marriages in places such as Massachusetts - which is expected to legalise it over the next few weeks - which are not recognised in other states, just like marriages between people of different races a few years ago," she said. "Maybe one day people will look back and ask what the fuss was all about."

As featured in the The Sunday Times, Sunday June 22, 2003

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Marriage rights for gay couples

GAY and lesbian couples are to get the same legal rights as husbands and wives under government plans due to be published this month. Ministers will propose homosexuals should get the same tax, pension and property rights as married couples provided they register their relationships in a new-style civil ceremony.

The government is, however, expected to provoke controversy by denying the same rights to unmarried heterosexual couples in long-term relationships. It will fuel claims that the government is pandering to the gay lobby. Ministers will try to head off the criticism by claiming that extending the rights to unmarried couples could undermine marriage by discouraging them from tying the knot.

The changes, which will be implemented in a civil partnerships bill, are being introduced following the European Union's equal treatment directive, which bans discrimination against gays. Under the plans — to be presented to parliament as a "consultation" document — gay couples would give a written undertaking in an official register that they had lived together for a minimum period, possibly as little as six months or a year. They would then be eligible for the same tax and other perks as married couples. Like married couples, they would be exempt from inheritance tax when they inherited from a dead partner.

In the past, some gay people have been evicted from their homes or forced to sell the property after their partner's death. Gay couples would also benefit from the same pension breaks as married couples. All occupational pension schemes allow a surviving wife or husband to benefit from their dead spouse's pension. However, only about a third of British companies currently grant such rights to gay employees.

The new law would also give gay couples the legal right to act as next of kin, enabling them to be consulted on hospital treatment if their partner was seriously ill. They would also have a right to dictate funeral arrangements. Other benefits would allow them to apply to a court for alimony if their relationship broke down. They would also have improved rights to an interest in a shared home if they separated. Foreigners who came from abroad to live with their gay partners would be given the same rights to live in Britain as a wife or husband who joined their spouse from abroad.

The changes are likely to be contentious, even among some of those who have supported reform. Lord Lester of Herne Hill, who introduced a private member's bill on civil partnerships last year, said he would be disappointed if the government resisted moves to extend the rights to unmarried couples. He said: "The government appears to have given in to people who say it would undermine marriage if straight couples got the protection, so they are saying they can only do it for gay couples who can't marry. That's ridiculous."

A recent survey found that almost 30% of adults in Britain are cohabiting. Many unmarried couples believe they are entitled to 50% of their partner's assets. But this is a myth: in the eyes of the law they have few rights.

Traditionalists such as Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute, say the bill is "wrong and misconceived". Hart said: "These plans are promoting counterfeit marriage. Two old ladies who had lived together for 40 years, for example, would have to pretend to be lesbians to benefit from the changes."

The Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt, also believes such proposals would undermine marriage and appeared to give official backing to the idea that lifelong, exclusive commitments were no longer possible. "Most marriages do work and 60% last till death us do part," he said. A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: "To suggest same-sex couples should have the same rights as married couples is a step in the wrong direction."

However, Sacha Deshmukh, director of parliamentary affairs for Stonewall, the gay and lesbian group, said the plans should be welcomed. "We are aware of thousands of couples around the country who face all sorts of practical problems in their lives because they don't have any method of pointing to recognition of their partnership," she said. The move, which was disclosed to party whips at a private meeting last week, is being spearheaded by the government minister Barbara Roche.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office, which initiated the bill, said: "She is in favour of a civil partnership registration scheme for same sex couples with a package of rights and responsibilities for those that register."

As featured in the The Sunday Times, Sunday June 8, 2003 by David Leppard

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Gay partners rush to register at town halls

More and more gay couples are taking advantage of the new legal right to register their relationships.

Registration ceremonies are already being organised by local councils around the UK. They are 'springing up all over the place', says the gay rights campaign, Stonewall. They do not yet incorporate any legal rights for the couple, although they encourage equality among employers, housing authorities, immigration officials and others who wield power.

'It could be very useful,' says solicitor Andrew Belmont of Belmont Hansford, which specialises in work for the gay community.

One woman who recently went through a registration ceremony run by the Greater London Assembly showed the certificate to her employer and managed to get health cover for her female partner, a right reserved until then for married couples. Full legal rights may follow, perhaps including the status married couples enjoy for capital gains and inheritance taxes.

The Department of Trade and Industry will publish a consultation paper this summer on voluntary registration of gay partnerships, and this will include discussion of the tax issues.

Since London started its scheme in September 2001, 392 couples have registered their partnerships: 255 male pairings, 123 female and 14 heterosexual. Sadly, nine of those couples have since deregistered, though that is only about the same as the rate of divorce after a similar length of heterosexual marriage.

As featured in the Observer, Sunday February 9, 2003 by

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Gay Weddings - Has The World Caught Up Yet?

London's Partnership Register, launched last year by Mayor Ken Livingstone, is expecting to be busy on Valentine's Day this year. The register, usually open one day per week, will extend its hours to accommodate the number of same-sex couples in the capital who wish to formalise their relationships.

Across Britain other similar partnership registers have been proposed, and in Parliament the Liberal Democrat Lord Lester of Herne Hill introduced a Civil Partnership Bill in January this year which could give same sex couples the same rights as those who are married. In addition to Lester's Private Members' Bill, the government is rumoured to be looking increasingly favourably on partnership rights for lesbians and gay men, bringing the UK in line with progressive legislation in the rest of Europe.

Although lesbians and gay men are still a long way away from being able to hold fully legal white weddings in churches in the same way that heterosexuals do, times have never looked better for same sex couples who want to get hitched.

In 1999 a Key Note report estimated that the UK bridal wear market would be worth nearly £600million in 2003 - and that's just the dresses! With the growth in popularity and acceptance of partnership ceremonies for same sex couples, are wedding retailers planning on courting the pink pound?

Some companies have no intention of developing their services for the gay and lesbian market. Sandals, the holiday company that specialises in all-inclusive honeymoon packages in the Caribbean, will not accept bookings from same sex couples. The company has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for broadcasting misleading information about who may book their holidays, but has refused to discuss its "straights-only" policy in public.

Those seeking a camp backdrop for their wedding could try eloping to Gretna Green. What could be more kitsch than striking the ceremonial anvil, or posing for pictures under the lucky kissing gate? Gretnaweddings.com offer complete packages for couples wishing to get married. Unfortunately they declined to return our phonecalls.

They weren't alone. Berkertex Bride, "the country`s favourite bridal wear boutique," would not discuss same sex weddings with us, and the John Lewis wedding registry also declined to make any comment. The silence around this issue suggests that, despite our reputation for having large amounts of disposable income, these companies have not recognised that times are changing and that they do not consider gay and lesbian couples a viable potential market for their wedding services.

Ironically, gay and lesbian small businesses and community groups may be the ones who miss out the most with the introduction of more formalised partnership registration ceremonies. Whilst same sex couples have been holding their own informal commitment ceremonies for years, there might suddenly be no demand for such events if proper legislation is passed.

Dominic Davies of Civil Ceremonies, who organise commitment ceremonies for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, is unfazed. He told RainbowNetwork that he expected Civil Ceremonies to remain popular because: "With legal ceremonies people are tied to a standard form, they lose flexibility. Commitment ceremonies offer more choice, they are more personalised."

Other gay and lesbian initiatives are flourishing. Since the establishment of civil unions in the US state of Vermont, a number of gay and lesbian wedding businesses have sprung up, selling everything from his-and-his or hers-and-hers cake toppers, ornamental certificates and proclamations, baseball caps with veils, and various rainbow-coloured gift ideas.

Whilst anyone can buy a bunch of flowers or a wedding cake, there is clearly a demand for services, which reflect gay and lesbian lifestyles. It may well be that, however tacky their products, the growth of gay-friendly niche markets in the wedding industry may ultimately be the catalyst that forces the mainstream to take notice.

As featured on the www.rainbownetwork.com written by Charlotte Cooper

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Embassy Ceremonies

The Swedish government has announced that it will allow same-sex union ceremonies to be performed at its embassies in Paris, Madrid, and Lisbon. The partnership ceremonies will only be open to Swedish citizens.

Foreign Minister Anna Lindh said "It is natural for Sweden to be able to offer registration of partnership at embassies where the host country does not oppose it. France, Spain, and Portugal have informed us that they have no objection to Sweden`s request for registration of partnership."

Sweden was one of the first countries to recognize same-sex unions.

As featured on the www.rainbownetwork.com

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Charter Pledge - Birmingham

Councillor Steve Bedser announced a new civil partnership register for Birmingham whilst speaking at the city's annual Pride event over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The civil partnership register, to be set up by the public protection committee, could go some way in recognising gay partnerships within official departments.

Gay Pride organiser Garry Jones said "The new register for gay couples came as a complete surprise. Thousands of people cheered and clapped - this is a major step. If my partner needs to visit me in hospital he can now call himself my next of kin."

However, councillor Peter Hollingworth condemned the announcement as "complete rubbish".
"This register is about gay people pretending to be legally together, but it is complete rubbish and a waste of taxpayers` money."

As featured on the www.rainbownetwork.com

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Gay couples 'to get equal rights'

Gay men, lesbians and bisexuals would be granted many of the same rights as married couples under UK Government plans for legally-recognised civil partnerships. Barbara Roche, the Minister for Social Exclusion and Equalities, says there is a strong case for allowing same-sex couples to register their relationships. Co-habiting couples do not receive the same tax breaks or entitlements that married couples enjoy, including access to a partner's pension.

Civil partnerships could give homosexual couples property and inheritance rights for the first time.

Under the plans, those who register their partnership will also receive next-of-kin status, without which partners cannot be consulted about hospital treatment.

The government is set to unveil detailed proposals for change next summer and consult on the issue before bringing in legislation.

Any bill would be likely to run into opposition in the House of Lords.

As featured on the BBC news Friday, 6 December, 2002

 

 

 

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