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Locals spurn gay wedding first chance

Gay marriages were legalised as of today (Saturday)

Gay marriages were legalised as of today (Saturday)

GAY Wiganers have now missed the chance to be among the first in the country to get married.

Same sex weddings became legal today.

But the borough’s register office at the council confirmed that no couples had signed up within the deadline to take advantage of the new legislation allowing same sex lovers to legally tie the knot.

There are three civil ceremony applications for gay couples currently registered with the council.

Same-sex couples in England and Wales who wanted to hold weddings on the day gay marriage becomes legal needed to have registered in advance a fortnight ago.

Existing marriages of gay couples that took place overseas will also now be legally recognised.

Procedures for people who are in civil partnerships to “upgrade” to marriage have yet to come into effect.

Couples have had to have given 15 days’ notice of their intention to marry at Wigan Register Office to qualify under the strictures of the new Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act.

Under the terms of the legislation, religious organisation will have to opt in to offering weddings ... although the Church of England is currently prevented in law by doing so.

Gay couples will, however, be able to have special prayers following their weddings.

But members of the clergy are banned from entering same-sex marriages.

Guidance issued by the Church of England following a meeting of the House of Bishops to discuss the issue gave a clear signal separating the Church’s concept of marriage and the new legal definition.

Civil partnerships will still be performed and vicars have been warned that married couples must be welcomed to worship and not subject to “questioning” or discrimination.

Same-sex couples may ask for special prayers after being married, but it will not be a service of blessing.

For members of the clergy the rules are stricter, banning anyone in a same-sex marriage from being ordained or anyone already in holy orders to marry their partner.

Although they may enter into a civil partnership.

The guidance said getting married to someone of the same sex is “clearly at odds” with religious instruction and members of the clergy must “exemplify in their life the teachings of the 
Church”.

Civil partnerships became legal in the UK in 2004 giving same-sex couples the same legal recognition as heterosexual marriage.

One of the first to celebrate their new right in the borough was former Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust boss Rodney Hill, who held a spectacular reception at Haigh Hall.

Those in civil partnerships can choose to convert their relationships to marriage ... but are under no obligation to do so.

The procedure for such a conversion is expected to be in place by the end of the 
year.

Notice period to register intent to marry can be waived in the case of a same-sex couple where one of the partners is terminally ill,

 

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