The first gay marriages in Britain are to take place today despite strong objections from Catholics and Evangelical Christians who warn that such unions will lead to a greater break-down of family and society.
The first slew of civil unions will take place in Northern Ireland at Belfast City Hall. Arrangements for civil partnerships come into full force Wednesday, by which time some 700 homosexual couples will be tying the knot across England and Scotland as well.
With a passage of a new civil partnership legislation, gay couples began registering for civil union licenses early this month. And while this legislation distinguishes such unions with marriage, Evangelicals warn that it is the staging post toward legalized same sex marriage within the next few years.
The Alliance believes there can never be moral equivalence between marriage and same-sex partnerships, even if legal equivalence is established, an early December statement from the Evangelical Alliance U.K. read.
Gay rights supporters in the United Kingdom meanwhile hailed the day as a victory.
"This is a day for celebration for anyone committed to equality and an end to discrimination, said Barbara Muldoon, spokeswoman for the Anti-Racism Network in north Belfast. "This is a hard won day where recognition will be given for the first time that no group in our society is entitled to monopolize love and partnership.
However, 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.
It needs to be remembered that one groups rights often involves anothers inequality, said Horrocks.
Some 1,200 gay couples have already registered to get married.