LONDON Two men exchanged vows in a civil ceremony Tuesday, becoming the first pair in Scotland to tie the knot under new laws establishing formal legal partnerships for same-sex couples.
The couple, which lives in Washington, D.C., and works for a technology firm, returned home for Tuesday's ceremony. The civil partnership will give them new rights in the United Kingdom, but will not be recognized in the United States.
The ceremony comes just one day after the law took effect in Northern Ireland. Belfast was the scene for Britains first gay marriage yesterday, which went ahead despite large protests and objections taking place from Catholic and Evangelical Christians. Protestors have given the stark warning that such civil partnerships would lead to an eventual break-down in families and society.
In England and Scotland the Civil Partnership Acts will not allow gay couples to join until Wednesday.
The new civil partnership law will give gay couples the same property and inheritance rights as married heterosexuals and entitles them to the same pension, immigration and tax benefits. However, unlike in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Canada it is not a marriage.
A statement released by the Evangelical Alliance in early December stated: The Alliance believes there can never be moral equivalence between marriage and same-sex partnerships, even if legal equivalence is established.
Don Horrocks, head of public affairs for the EAUK, said such a push for gay rights eventually takes away from the rights of those who may have a Christian perspective on marriage. He said, It needs to be remembered that one groups rights often involves anothers inequality.
Another senior British clergyman has spoken out against the Civil Partnerships Act. The Rev Peter Smith, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff, said, What the Government should do in terms of public policy is support marriage rather than undermine it. To put beside marriage an alternative or what appears to be a perfectly approved legal alternative lifestyle I think does not help the institution of marriage at all.
However, it appears as if the hype and build-up to the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act, in which it was rumored that huge numbers would be registering immediately for Civil Partnership, has been overstated.
Many reports had suggested that more than 500 Civil Partnerships to take place in Brighton alone. However, in most other cities across the U.K. including Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh fewer than 100 ceremonies have as of yet been planned.