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Gay Couples Can "Marry" In The UK

Nicola Hill

Gay couples in the UK can “marry” from December 21 this year, a great step forward for equal rights.

The Civil Partnership Act, which comes into force on 5 December, will give gay men and lesbians the same rights as married couples. These include next of kin rights, not having to pay 40 per cent inheritance tax, pension rights and recognition for immigration and tax purposes.

The ceremonies, which involve signing a register in front of two witnesses, can take place in local council registry offices or venues licensed to hold civil weddings such as hotels, castles or even racecourses.

Sir Elton John has already announced his plans to marry his long-term partner David Furnish. This high profile wedding will help to publicize the benefits of the new law and prompt other couples to pop the question.

A recent survey of the gay community in the UK magazine, Gay Times, revealed that 81 per cent of readers are planning to take advantage of the new law. The UK government has a conservative estimate that 22,000 will tie the knot before 2010.

Many couples will be having lavish celebrations and then jetting off to gay friendly holiday destinations for their honeymoons. Florida’s Key West, San Francisco, New York and Provincetown are some of the favorites among the British gay community.

London-based lesbian couple, Nicola Hill and Laura McCaffrey have set up a website to promote gay friendly wedding venues and services. They appeared on ABC News channel’s Good Morning America, December 4, outlining the benefits of the new law and sharing the excitement of this monumental legal change. They are planning their own ceremony for summer 2006.

Key benefits of the new law

- equal treatment for tax purposes, including inheritance tax
- recognition for immigration purposes
- rights to survivor’s pension
- next of kin rights
- exemption from testifying against each other in court
- court administered dissolution process
- domestic violence protection
- automatic revocation of will on registration of partnership
- on intestacy surviving partner automatically inherits their partner’s property
- maintenance on dissolution


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