UK & World News
First Gay Marriages To Take Place From Midnight
The first gay weddings in England and Wales will take place from midnight tonight.
Ceremonies have been planned to take place in London, Brighton and elsewhere as soon as the clock strikes midnight.
Islington Town Hall in north London and Brighton's Royal Pavilion are just some of the venues that will be hosting weddings with lovers vying to become the first same-sex couple to marry in Britain.
Peter McGraith and David Cabreza, who have been together for 17 years, will tie the knot in Islington just moments after Saturday begins.
Mr McGraith said: "We are thrilled to be getting married. It is a mark of significant social progress in the UK that the legal distinction between gay and straight relationships has been removed.
"Very few countries afford their gay and lesbian citizens equal marriage rights and we believe that this change in law will bring hope and strength to gay men and lesbians in Nigeria, Uganda, Russia, India and elsewhere, who lack basic equality and are being criminalised for their sexual orientation."
Louis Monaco, who will wed his partner Aarron Erbas in Islington on Saturday morning, said: "Aarron is so excited, he proposed to me.
"Once I told him we were able to get this date he had the invitations and the reception venue picked out by that night."
Same-sex couples wishing to marry had initially thought they would have to wait until the summer after the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act was passed last July.
However, they were allowed to register their intention to marry from March 13 - with March 29 the first day they could get hitched.
Ruth Hunt, acting chief executive of gay rights charity Stonewall, said it would be a "momentous day".
"The first weddings will send a powerful message to every person in Britain and around the world that you can live and love as you choose, regardless of your sexual orientation."
Unlike civil partnerships, same-sex marriages will give the same legal recognition as marriage across a range of areas including pensions, inheritance, child maintenance and immigration rights.
While the change will not be enforced upon religious organisations, they will be able to opt in.
The Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Rev Alan Wilson, several retired Church of England bishops, five Anglican cathedral deans and prominent Jewish leaders have said they hope all faiths will soon recognise same-sex marriages.
"As persons of faith, we welcome this further development in our marriage law, which has evolved over the centuries in response to changes in society and in scientific knowledge," they said in a letter.
"We look forward to the time, sooner rather than later, when all people of faith will feel able to welcome this development."