Bill & Jim's Excellent Adventure
Publish Date: 25/10/2007William Murphy (Bill), 73, a Retired Data Processor and James Bruce (Jim), 71, a retired Sociology Teacher both moved from America's Massachusetts city to Manchester's Chadderton town in July this year.
Just two months later, on 26th September the couple decided to tie the knot at their local registry office in Chadderton Town Hall but when the pair were informed they needed two witnesses to attend the ceremony they panicked.
In last hope Bill contacted the Lesbian and Gay Foundation and fortunately two members of staff, Jeni Quirke and Rachel Bottomley were able to attend on the day.
Bill commented: 'We didn't know where to go or which way to turn, not knowing anyone because they said witnesses were absolutely essential. I said 'I'm going to call this number' and I'm glad I did because otherwise we would've had to cancel.'
'The tough part about moving was leaving all our friends behind and coming here but no-one's going to come 3000 miles for a civil ceremony. We will soon get to know people here but it takes a little time.'
Bill and Jim became an item almost 12 years ago when they met at a Christmas party in the US. Bill who was originally born in Glasgow and Jim who has Scottish ancestors instantly connected.
Jim commented: 'He had an accent and was obviously from Scotland so it was sort of a common interest and a chance for me to find out about my ancestor's home. Bill added: 'It was just eye contact. I think you can tell when another guy is gay, not by actions or anything like that - it's just a vibration like electricity. You just suddenly get a signal that this guy thinks the same as I do.
'People usually think we are brothers but we're not. I think it is just the beard because I am better looking than he is.
The couple's primary reason for deciding to have a Civil Partnership was for the legal protection and for the next of kin rights. Bill explained: 'Families can squabble and I don't want any of that nonsense. We decided let's make it legal and if I kick the bucket then everything is his - there's no question about it. I don't want any squabbles, people fighting over a table or a chair.'
Jim added: 'It really is just for the legal protection because it doesn't exist in most places in America. Only a few states have Civil or Domestic Partnerships and where we lived they did not have it.'
The Lesbian and Gay Foundation would like to thank Bill and Jim again for making a very generous donation of £100 in September.