At the stroke of midnight on Saturday, the United Kingdom welcomed its first gay weddings after same-sex marriage was legalized in England and Wales – but it was an American who stole the show.
The first couple married in England was Sinclair Treadway, a 20-year-old from Los Angeles, California, and his London based partner Sean Adl-Tabatabai. Treadway’s parents traveled from the U.S., and leaders of all of Britain’s major political parties wished them congratulations. Leave it to an American to steal Britain’s gay marriage thunder.
But despite the American hijacking, the midnight marriages went off without a hitch, and dozens of same sex couples were successfully hitched.
“When we were born, it was illegal to be gay, let alone get married,” one soon-to-be newlywed said during last-minute preparations ahead of the wedding. “I didn’t think about the possibility for most of my life. It is only really recently that suddenly the option seemed to be on its way.”
Up until Saturday, gay couples in Britain were allowed to enter in civil partnerships – established by law in 2005 – which made many feel like second-class citizens.
The same-sex marriage bill was passed in January last year but is just now coming into effect. While Prime Minister David Cameron faced some vocal opposition, for the most part politicians from the main parties have supported the change in the law.
“This weekend is an important moment for our country,” the Prime Minister wrote in an article for the Pink News website.
“It says we are a country that will continue to honour its proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth,” he continued, adding that he hoped the legalization would give young gay Britons the courage to come out.
Even Elton John is hopping on the gay weddings bus. His partner of 20 years, David Furnish, recently announced the duo will marry in May.
“We don’t feel the need to take an extra step legally,” Furnish said. “But since we’re committed for life, we feel it’s really important to take that step, and take advantage of that amazing change in legislation. We all live by example.”
Scotland has passed a similar law, and is expected to see its first weddings in October.
Northern Ireland has no plans to follow suit…