Click and read their stories
Sarah & Chris
David & Darren
Nick & Sarah
Rob & Richard
Kath & Christine
Claire & Rob
Sara & Sian
Caroline & Scott
John & Allen
Warren & Kieran
Sarah & Christopher live in Manchester and got married in September last year.
Chris, 29, comments “I want to show my support for same sex marriage. I got married last year and that day was one of the most special of my life, surrounded by my family and friends to be joined to the person that I want to spend the rest of my life with. My elation was shared by all and I now have wonderful memories that well last forever.
“I believe that no one should be denied this, one of life's beautiful experiences for any reason, least of all, the sex of the person that want to spend the rest of their life with.”
His wife Sarah adds, “Many of the arguments against same-sex marriage have talked about how it will undermine heterosexual marriages.
“I am a straight married woman yet I feel incredibly strongly about making marriage more inclusive for all. Having a concept of marriage that everyone can be part of, no matter their sexuality, to me makes marriage all the stronger.
“Marriage is about two people who love eachother making a commitment. It’s not defined by gender or sexuality and to me we are confusing the issue. I want my gay friends and family to have the same rights as I do. To me, it’s a no brainer”
Darren, 48, from Sheffield and David, 42, from Salford have been together for 18 years. They had a civil partnership 2 an a half years ago but hope to make this into a full marriage to be seen as equal in the law.
“Both of our families have been supportive of our relationship but it would be fair to say that we have had some negativity over the years, Darren in particular was subject to a lot of homophobia as a child and young man.
“We had a very muted civil partnership event 2 and a half years ago, we had no fanfare and only invited close family. It was not like a wedding and there was no religious element (neither of us are religious in any way). We both feel that we would have dealt with it differently if it was a full marriage and the nature of the ceremony certainly made it feel a bit '2nd class'.
“Full marriage is important to us. It’s simple, we both believe in equality and our right to have the same choices as anyone else. We wouldn’t necessarily have a big 'do' but we feel that it is extremely important for us to be seen as equal in the law.
“We personally wouldn’t want a religious element but would want religious organisations to be allowed (if they want) to carry out ceremonies for same sex couples. However we don’t think they should be forced.
Nick & Sarah
My name is Nick Lewis I am female and my name is Nick!
I am 34 years old. Up until earlier this year I have spent most of my life living and working in Nottingham and my main area of expertise is within support work and housing with my local community until earlier this year when I became ill resulting in hospitalisation and end result disability meaning I had to leave that line of work so I have recently set up my own business which means I can be flexible around my illness. My main aim is to create cards that are more suited to the LGBT community as currently there are not many places you can go pick up a card aimed at your gay relative or friend which I find very disappointing, hence why I've set out on this new venture!
My partner is Sarah Lewis (yes we share the same surname purely by coincidence!) Sarah is 30 but her 31st birthday is only a week away!
Sarah has spent most of her life also living and working in Nottingham. Also by coincidence she has mainly worked within support work but mainly within mental health.
We met in April 2011 and very quickly became an item and have been together ever since!
We had both come out of very bad and unhealthy relationships with our last partners, I was in a civil partnership previously & Sarah had been in a heterosexual marriage.
We hit it off straight away and fell in love we are both very happy and have never had an argument in the 19 months we have been together and we just get on so well we clearly are soul mates.
Although earlier this year my dissolution from my civil partnership came through and also Sarah's divorce came we have not wanted to rush ourselves into that next level of commitment for a few reasons firstly because we both feel like we had rubbish weddings the first time round and not as we had really wanted as well as the relationships themselves being bad an ending in an unpleasant manner we wanted ours to be really special and exactly how we want it so we would rather save and wait and do it when we have everything sorted rather than rush and on the cheap!
And the second reason is we want to be married like proper equals to every other married couple as I have previously had a civil partnership I can say from experience that it does not seem to be taken as seriously to the rest of the world as it does to the individual having the partnership I think and feel like it is a second class service and partly why there is still a lot of homophobia around as its not excepted and not equal if it was ok and the norm then I'm sure there would be less homophobia over time and that people would feel stronger to make a stand when being discriminated against and also people would be more aware that it is a hate crime and its not ok to shout lesbian at someone in the street or bully a boy at school for seemly to come across as gay?
Just like racism was more widely accepted years ago I feel homophobia is widely accepted still these days which is outrageous?
We will marry when gay marriage is passed as law and we are equal to all. Until then our relationship will continue to grow after all we are in no rush we have the rest of our lives together ;)
Although me and Sarah do not live together as we both have our own properties we live a short distance from each other and spend an awful lot of time together as we never seem to be bored of each others company.
Hope we get gay marriage passed soon as I'd love nothing more than to be able to have a proper wedding and a fully legal marriage and to be equal and accepted in the community as a married couple. It will make our dreams come true ;)
Rob & Richard
“My partner and I, Richard, have lived in England our whole lives. It has been true love from the moment we first met. We have been together for over 15 years, living together for over thirteen years.
“We met when we were 21, and have a strong and loving relationship, supported by fantastic family and friends. The latest addition to our family home is our wonderful dog Ruby!
“We have lived in Manchester for eight years, and play an active part in our local community. The best part of our relationship is being there for each other. Indeed, the only thing we argue about is football. I'm a Man City fan and Richard supports Liverpool.
“Full Marriage is really important to us. For Richard and I, it is about being able to tell the world that we love each other, and to enjoy the right of marriage that our friends and family can. It feels like the natural next step in our strong, long term relationship.
“Civil Partnership is fantastic, and has been brilliant for the thousands of lesbian and gay couples who have had a Civil partnership. For us, we want it to go further; we want the right to full marriage like anyone else. Like our parents, we too want to be able to say that we 'are married.'
Christine and Kath McGleenan-Reed, from Warrington, became civil partners in 2007 and have two children but said they would love the chance to get married if the law changes.
Kath, aged 43, said: “It’s an awkward thing to say ‘civil partnered’, I just automatically say I’m married.
“We’re trying to teach our children tolerance and not to discriminate against anybody at a time where there is discrimination against people wanting to marry each other because they love each other.”
Kath, who moved to England from Zimbabwe in 2000, said it is a ‘miracle’ to live in a country where she can be herself as she says it is illegal and dangerous to be gay in her home country.
She left after police started knocking on doors asking if anyone knew of any same sex couples in the area.
The musician met 25-year-old Christine, who works for the NHS, on a website in 2006.
After a whirlwind romance the couple made history as part of the first group civil partnership during Manchester Pride in 2007 when Christine was five months’ pregnant.
The wedding was planned quickly after a friend of the couple offered to be a sperm donor with faster than expected positive results.
Kath added: “We planned to get married in 2008 but then we knew about problems gay couples have had getting pregnant so we decided to get on with it.
“It was very important for us to be married before the baby was born because we wanted the family to feel complete.”
The pair are now proud parents to Kasey, aged four, and Teagan, aged one, after law changes meant Kath did not have to legally adopt their second child but could automatically be named on the birth certificate.
Kath and Christine both come from Christian families but neither have felt comfortable going back to church since their civil partnership.
They said they would prefer to get married in a church but would find it ‘acceptable’ if they could not.
Kath added: “It doesn’t compute that the Church of England allow women clergymen, so they’re obviously forward-thinking, but in other ways they’re so far behind the times.
“It would be wonderful if we could get married in a church but I already have far more than I ever expected in my entire life.
“I never expected to legally have children with the person I love and that feels such an accomplishment.”
On 30th January 2006, after a few weeks of chatting on an online dating website, Daniel and I arranged to meet up for a drink. I had spent the last 5 years travelling with work as a singer and pianist and had decided it was now time to settle down and focus on my career and what I was going to do for the rest of my life. Daniel came into my life at the perfect time. Neither of us had ever been in a serious relationship before and I'm not sure either of us were really looking for one then, but we decided to meet up and see how things went. I took two friends with me and planted them in the pub as a sort of opinion panel. Everytime Dan went to the loo I bolted over to see what they thought... well, I always like to get a second opinion! Both they, and I, were smitten!
It was a cold wintery night in Darwen, a little town in east Lancashire where I was born and bred. I left often and returned every time like a homing pigeon. I was out and proud in this little town and everyone knew. In fact, I had come out when I was 14 and just a school boy which was quite a revelation for our little, simple town. The glove fit me comfortably though and I was happy to wear it. I was out, happy and loving living the gay life!
Daniel, on the other hand, was not out. He wasn't straight, but then he wasn't really anything to anyone else. He lived with his parents a couple of towns away in Rishton and worked as a computer aided designer. He had his mates and his family but romance was something he had never really visited. He knew who he was, but no-one else did.
The first date went really well and we agreed to meet again. We soon discovered we had loads in common, loving the same programmes, music and sports (apart from his love of football! I grew up with an avid Liverpool fan in my brother and ended up living with another one when I grew up!!). I suppose I had always resisted the 'relationship' thing as I loved my freedom too much. I didn't like the idea of being 'tied down' to someone. I liked to make my own decisions and do my own thing when it suited me. But Daniel was different. He showed me all the amazing things that a relationship can offer. Waking up next to someone, cuddles whenever you fancy, Valentine's Days, buying presents for no reason and being best mates with someone with all the obvious sexy perks!
He would pick me up from work on a Friday night (I had an awful job in a call centre through a temping agency) and we'd go back to my mums, lock ourselves in my room and eat crisps, drink lager and watch DVDs until he had to leave me on Sunday night. We were so happy together, laughing and snuggling! Eventually, his parents started to wonder where he was going every weekend as he had never been out so often before. He told me he didn't want to lie to them and that he was going to come out. I wanted to be really supportive to him and told him he didn't need to until he was ready and to take his time and do things at his own pace... the next day he told me he had done it and it went well! I was astonished that he had done it so quickly! He was so strong and amazing.
I met his parents and they welcomed me into their family instantly, as mine did to him. He chatted about football with my brother, I chatted about Strictly Come Dancing with his mum and we all got on together as one big family! Time went on and we grew closer. I had moved out of my parents into a flat of my own in town and 10 months into our relationship it made sense for Daniel to move in with me. We slept on an inflatable bed, I got up at 5am for work every day and life was great. I cooked, he ate, we laughed and drank and we got on together with all our brilliant friends.
Daniel had always been a shy, quiet lad and I had not!!I was a brash, loud, larger than life character and Dan was very much the opposite. A lot of people couldn't believe that we were so compatible with each other, but as much as I pulled Dan out of his shell, he grounded me and we balanced each other out beautifully.
I soon got a job working in commercial radio and and this opened up lots of opportunities for me. I started to do a lot of presenting work in public and worked a lot of hours. I was gigging more and doing a lot of charity work. Daniel was my rock and never complained! He would sit at the back and quietly applaud me, smiling proudly. I loved him more and more.
The years went by, we got our first place together in a small village near Burnley and made lots of great friends together. We were known by the whole village, affectionately, as the gays! Dan was the sensible one, I was the loud one, but we knew our parts and played them well. We had our ups and downs though like most couples, and we had our fair share of arguements, usually about money, and we fell out occasionally! Thats the reality of it, the healthy part of relationships. That's what makes you stronger as a unit. If you didn't have the lows you could never appreciate the highs.
In 2010, things were tough. We didn't see eye to eye on a couple of things that were quite important to our relationship at that time and we decided, mutually, to break up. We felt like we wanted different things in life at that time. Dan had only really 'been' with me and felt like there was a whole world out there that he had missed out on. He didn't come out until he was 27, so all the things I had done in my youth, all the people I had met, all the places I had been, all the experiences I had had... well, Dan hadn't done any of that. We discussed our options and decided we were going to break up but still live together for the time being. He was going to move into his brother's old place when it was ready and I began flat hunting. We hugged and cried.
Our breakup lasted about 6 days! We realised that life without each other was not a life either of us wanted. We had missed each other terribly in those 6 days, even though we still lived together. We missed each others company before sleep, we missed laughing and being silly and we missed the security of knowing we were there for each other, no matter what. We were back together before the end of the week!
We had a renewed love for our relationship now and really appreciated each others companionship. Dan was working in a new job now and was away from Monday to Friday. I worked three jobs through the week and at the weekend we did whatever we wanted. We missed each other during the week, but it made the weekends extra special. Soon I started a new job in the city and had started to look at my life in a whole new dimension. All the things I wanted to be and to do when I was a teenager were moving further and further away from me now as I edged towards 30 and it was scary to realise I was getting older! I had a lot of decisions about my future to make and making firm decision was never my forte! However, I had already decided on one thing and I knew it was the right thing to do. I was going to do one of the scariest things in all my life and make an honest man out of Daniel!
At a friend's Christmas party in 2011 I confided in a select couple of people, had a lot of champagne and waited for the right moment. Soon after the clock rang in Christmas Eve I sat with Dan on our friends bed in their home while the party continued downstairs. I don't think I've ever been as nervous. I told him that I loved him and that he made me so happy and that he was the single most important thing in my life. I cried uncontrollably throughout this sentence as I thought about how happy he had made me over the last six years. I eventually got to the point, got on one knee in front of him and took out the ring box. I asked him if he would do me the honour of marrying me? He replied, without hesitation, 'of course I will, silly' and we fell into each others arms. It was perfectly romantic until the ring didn't fit! He wears it on a chain around his neck to this day!
We went downstairs and we were met by all of our friends with champagne corks popping and cheers to wake up the whole neighbourhood. Everyone was so pleased for us. Our families were thrilled, our Facebook and Twitter timelines were jammed with congratulatory messages and we felt on top of the world. Immediately people started asking us when we were getting married! And that's when it hit me.
We weren't getting married. We could have a ceremony to swear our love to each other in front of our friends and family, we could have a lovely meal, a best man, a band, dancing, a nice car... everything could look just the same as a real wedding, but it wouldn't be a wedding! Shortly after Dan and I announced our engagement, my brother got engaged to his partner, the mother of his son. They now had the freedom to decide whether to have a civil ceremony, a civil partnership or even have a big white wedding in a church. Dan and I couldn't have that conversation. We didn't have those options. We had had all the same trials and tribulations as they had. We had cried and laughed together, grown together, fallen apart, grown back together, lived and loved together just the same as they had, but we couldn't make the same decisions about our future. My brother could, if he chose to, include his faith and religion in his ceremony. I, legally, did not have that option.
Dan and I are as strong today as we have ever been and the 7 year itch is unimaginable to us. Dan is 33 now and I am 30 and we have a solid relationship and a sturdy foundation. We both have good jobs, we both pay our taxes, insurances and we both vote. We have as much right as anybody else to be able to choose the correct way for us to celebrate our love and our relationship with the people we hold closest to us but legally we do not have the same options because we are both men. My brother will soon be a married man, just as my father was a married man, and my grandfathers before him. If Dan and I settled for a civil partnership under current legislation, I would not be able to say the same about myself. What would I be? 'Partnered'? What would my marital status be? 'Living as if married'?
It is constitutionally wrong and against the very moralistic fibre of the foundations of the great nation that we live in to have a law that prevents someone doing something that someone else can do based entirely on their gender. That is what we call discrimination. If the churches decide that morally, in the eyes of their God, it is wrong for two people of the same sex to marry then that is their own stance, but it is not for the governors of our country to make those decisions or to implement laws influenced by religious factors. Recently it was decided by the Church of England that women were not allowed to be ordained as bishops. This was met by uproar from the general public with people saying 'how ridiculous to say that just because someone is female they would be any weaker at performing in a certain role that a man'. This is absolutely correct, but as much as the church decided this was the case, there were no legal boundaries in place stating that a woman can't be a bishop. That would be absurd. Ludicrous. But somehow it's acceptable when it comes to marriage.
I would urge the decision makers in this country to consider their responsibilities. They are voted into their position by the people and they have a duty to serve those people in a matter that is deemed as fair and equal and they are certainly not to create the laws of the land based around any one specific religious movement. This, currently, is happening in our great nation and it needs to change. Allow Dan and I to fight the fight for our equality against our oppressors by showing that you believe in our equality too. The current marriage laws need to change. Our government needs to encourage the right to love, not support the stigma and intolerance of institutions. All we want are the traps opening... we will run the race ourselves.
Claire and Rob live in Manchester and got married six years after they met in June 2012.
Claire says “Being announced as married was the happiest moment of my life. To me, a marriage describes two individuals who are committing to each other for the rest of their lives. Being able to vow to promise to love each other forever in front of those who are dear to us was such an emotional and happy experience.
Many of my closest friends identify as lesbian or gay and are in long-term relationships. I see no difference between my relationship with my husband, and my friends’ relationships with their same sex partners. The only difference is in the eyes of the law, as I was able to make the choice to marry the love of my life this year, while my friends do not have that option available to them. Civil partnership doesn’t constitute an equal right for same sex couples – I am of the firm and passionate belief that marriage should be an option for everyone, regardless of the gender of the person you are making your lifelong commitment to.”
Rob told us “ I believe it is very important that same sex couples have the right to be married because marriage isn’t a religious thing but a state of mind. It’s an open expression of commitment to another person and a very strong feeling of togetherness that you know will see you through good times and bad. Whether this commitment is between two women, two men or a man and a woman makes no difference.”
We Love Equal Marriage!!!
“Sara and I have been together around two and a half years and had our civil partnership in May 2012. I’m 33 and Sara is 31. We both live in the North West in Salford. I proposed, although I had always promised myself I wouldn’t have a Civil Partnership – I wanted to get married like my sisters.
“However, when I met Sara I realised we were perfect for each other, and I wanted to propose. I found someone I wanted to commit to, and there didn’t seem a lot of point not doing it out of principle. I found out soon after that they were going to review Marriage laws, but couldn’t postpone the CP until the law was changed! Both of us wanted a family, and we both felt that it was really important that we start that family in a formal relationship, so having a civil partnership or, ideally a marriage, was key for us.
“Our CP took place in Runswick Bay, which is a special place for us, and was very much like a wedding. We had two ceremonies in fact. One was at the registry office in Whitby on the Friday, attended by close family members and followed by a champagne afternoon tea! We both wore white. I saw this as ‘the legal bit’ to be done with before we did our ‘proper’ commitment in front of all our friends and family the following day in Runswick Bay, but for Sara it was very different and this is the day that is more important for her as it was an intimate family affair.
“Neither of us are religious, and we didn’t have a religious element to the wedding. For us, it was about making a commitment to each other and entering into a formally recognised relationship that, for us as a couple, was important to start a family.
“I never thought I would be able to get married. My sister got married when I was 12 and I did not think I would ever be able to do that. I had never done the whole ‘dream wedding’ thing as a young girl, but I saw they way in which marriage was an important institution and construct for relationships to be recognised and celebrated in, and understood that no relationship that I was ever going to be in was going to be treated in the same way. When we got civil partnerships, I felt the same way.
“I did not understand why both of my sisters could get married – as many times as they wanted to, in fact - but that I couldn’t get married once. Marriage conveys a status and gravitas that, as an individual and as part of a couple, I value. In addition, why should my parents be forced to out me as a lesbian every time she talks about her daughters? In reality, she says all three of her daughters are married, but legally that isn’t strictly true.”
Caroline & Scott live in Manchester and are getting married next year.
Caroline, 31, says ‘I consider myself incredibly lucky. Not only have I spent seven years in a committed and accepted relationship with a great man but in July next year I’m marrying him.
Unlike my gay friends, marriage is something I was free to choose or reject as I so wished, and the options open to me for the day itself outstretch those available to couples entering into civil partnerships.
Indeed, growing up in a culture which teaches us that couples are ‘straight’ and marriage is what they do, I admit to previously taking my ability to get married for granted. Not now though. In light of the fact that same-sex couples still cannot get married I view my ability to do this as a privilege.
Denying same-sex couples the ability to have their love and commitment recognised as a ‘marriage’ reinforces the damaging idea that their relationships are less valid than mine which is insulting to the thousands of same-sex couples in the UK today who are as committed as Scott and I, and who deserve the same opportunity as us to express their partnership through marriage.
John & Eran live in Glossop, Derbyshire. They have had a religious blessing and are planning to have a Civil Partnership/Marriage in the near future.
John, 25, says ' It is not about the religious side of things, nor the legal side of things, it is about equality. A few decades ago Women couldn't vote, in the USA Black People were considered slaves and not worthy of our compassion. In Medieval times only those who were Aristocracy could vote. All that has changed, and we are all equal in all things, or supposedly. Equal Marriage is, unequivocally, for me the view that LGB people are equal and are not people to be pitied or discriminated against. Equal marriage shows the world that this country is for equal rights for every single person in this country. Thus we need to be treated as such.'
Eran, 22, says 'John and I have been together 4 years now and around the 3 year mark we decided we wanted to show our friends and family how much we loved each other by getting married. When planning our marriage we wanted it to be pagan (as we both are) and lawful, and after much thought and discussion we decided to have the Handfasting (pagan wedding) first as this felt more real to us than a civil partnership. We keep saying we want a civil partnership so we can have the lawful protection and we also want to change our surnames, however for me it doesn’t feel like a marriage, it feels like signing a contract in the same way you would agree to a phone contract. Although the government previously tried to appease everyone with civil partnerships by taking out the terms such as “wedding”, “marriage”, “husband” and “wife”, aren’t these really what people look forward to the most, using these terms? At the end of the day it boils down to the fact that homosexual relationships are no different than heterosexual ones, so why should our marriage be different?'
John Casson and Allen Christey had a civil partnership at the Unitarian Chapel, Cross Street in Manchester on December 15th 2012.
Actually they called it a wedding and invited family and friends to their marriage: “No one owns these words and we chose to use them to describe our ceremony”, said John.
The government had changed the law last year to allow civil partnerships to be celebrated in religious settings where the denomination chose to welcome such unions.
“As soon as we met Rev Jane Barraclough we knew we’d be happy to be married by her,” said Allen. The wedding was very moving: many members of the congregation, gay and straight, had tears in their eyes during the ceremony.
“We had devised the whole service, with some help from Jane, mixing traditional elements with poetry, including a reading from Black Elk.” There was wonderful singing as many of Allen’s friends are singers. The reception was held at the Royal Exchange banqueting suite.
John and Allen wore matching cream suits with gold orchids in their button holes. They went to York for a wonderful honeymoon. They have been told that heterosexual couples who attended are thinking of getting married because the ceremony was such a moving occasion. “Several people told us it was the most beautiful wedding they had ever attended.”
“So is gay marriage such a threat to the established religions and the family?”
Warren and Kieran wrote this piece in December as part of their blog where they decided to upload a photo a day of something significant to themselves.
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT a black and white photo that adds drama and impact.
This was not taken today, but on the day of our civil partnership on 6th May. It is one of my favourite photos of the year, too good not to share.
My partner and I are poised on the threshold of the church as the minister prepares to welcome us.
Like the pause before the conductor raises the baton and a concert begins, this moment was filled with hope, excitement, anticipation, and a few nerves.
As the music began and we walked together past family and friends who had come from far and wide, it became clear that all the preparation and perspiration to get us to this day had all been worth it.
As our other civil partnership photos show, it was also a day of great colour and celebration, with lots of love and cake!
As the first couple to register their civil partnership in a place of worship in the UK, we were delighted to share our experience to help others who would want to do the same but may not know it is possible. We were in the local paper and on regional TV news, and received some affirming feedback. Some national publications also picked up the story, leading to some negative comments on internet forums.
To those who dispute the validity of our relationship and the promises we made to each other on that day in church, I would say that your arguments against marriage equality are not as black and white as you make out. Listen to the experiences of people like us who have worked hard to achieve recognition and acceptance for our relationships, and see what develops. Exposure to new ways of thinking may remove the drama of your fears and help you rejoice in the diverse colours of the spectrum of loving human relationships.
Check out their blog: http://abravefaith.wordpress.com