A Wigan couple are encouraging others like them to reap the benefits of civil partnerships when they are made available to heterosexual couples later this year.
Martyn Leman and Miranda Pocock are preparing to become civil partners this summer, after the government announced the ceremony would be made available to male-female couples for the first time in the coming months.
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The couple were keen on a civil partnership because of its financial and legal benefits, without compromising their religious beliefs, or lack thereof.
And when Martyn contacted Wigan Council to ask how to go about getting a civil partnership, he was told they were the first heterosexual couple to register interest, and would therefore likely be the first to undertake the ceremony in the borough.
The couple, who both run Wigan-based data firm Cloud Perspective, met 12 years ago, and felt the expansion of civil partnerships was an ideal solution for them to protect each other legally, should the worst happen.
Martyn, 50, said: “Last year, when the government announced that civil partnerships would become available for heterosexuals, I bought Miranda a ring.
“Neither of us are religious, but we have many assets now and we’ve tried to protect ourselves with wills etc. But I wanted to protect Miranda more as our assets have developed over the last eight years. Neither of us are religious, so a civil partnership was the best route.
“What we wanted was something where the only thing driving us was to protect each other, to say that we are together and that, if I die, Miranda is protected.”
He added: “I wrote to the council and the registrar to find out what happens next and they had no idea at first. We were apparently the first couple in Wigan to apply.
“I was surprised nobody else has looked into it, as it’s been national news. It’s got to be done more, there’s lots of people like me and Miranda, who don’t want to get married.
“We don’t believe in the ceremony associated with it, we are both atheists. We’re still going to have a party afterwards, just not with the religious aspects to it.”