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London couples register for civil partnerships

London couples register for civil partnerships

Gay couples stood in line for up to two hours on Friday to register for the United Kingdom's first official civil union ceremonies. More than 100 couples who entered their names in a register at Brighton Town Hall in southern England will be the first to marry legally under the Civil Partnerships Bill. The bill, which is expected to receive the assent of Queen Elizabeth II--largely a formality--later this year, would give gay and lesbian couples who enter into a civil partnership the same pension and other rights as married couples for the first time. Brighton, which has been called the U.K.'s gay capital, is planning to become a major venue for same-sex weddings when the bill is gets royal assent, with the first ceremonies expected next year. Roger Lewis, 55, from Brighton, was the first to sign the book with his partner, Keith Willmott-Goodall. "If couples want to marry, then they should be allowed to," Lewis said. "It's not so much the marriage thing, which I think is more important for couples planning to have children, but it is a better way that we can commit to each other in public." Several other European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Germany, already recognize some form of same-sex marriage or civil unions. Under the U.K. bill, gay partners would form a civil partnership by signing a register before an official and two witnesses. There would be a formal, court-based process for dissolution of a partnership.

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