A Hackney councillor and his partner made history this week by becoming the borough’s first same-sex couple to turn their civil partnership into a marriage.
Philip Glanville, councillor for Hoxton West and cabinet member for housing, married Giles McCray, an artist, just after midnight on Wednesday at a ceremony in Hackney Town Hall’s Speakers Parlour.
The pair’s wedding marked the day that tens of thousands of same-sex couples were able to convert their civil partnerships into marriages, following an amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, which passed in July.
Same sex marriage was made legal in England and Wales in July 2013. Buzzfeed captured the best moments of the first legal marriages in March of this year.
The Act allowed gay couples to marry from March 29. However, Glanville entered into a civil partnership with McCray in 2011 and there has been no legal way for couples in these partnerships to be married, until an amendment of the law came into effect on Wednesday.
Sophie Linden, Hackney’s Deputy Mayor, who was an attendee at the nuptials, congratulated the couple on Twitter saying it was a “great day for love and great day for equality”.
Other attendees, including Labour councillor for Stoke Newington, Louisa Thompson said there was “not a dry eye in the Speakers Parlour”.
Not a dry eye in the speakers parlour pic.twitter.com/A6FLfcD0C2
— Louisa Thomson (@welovestokey) December 10, 2014
Feryal Demirci, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, described the midnight wedding ceremony as “totally amazing” and Jonathan McShane, cabinet member for health, social care and culture said the event was “history in the making”.
— feryal demirci (@feryaldemirci) December 10, 2014
Between March and June this year, 1,409 same sex couples chose to marry. Nicky Morgan, secretary of state for education and minister for women and equalities, and Nick Boles, minister of state for skills and equalities, wrote in Pink News about their delight that the law now extended to couples that had previously entered into civil partnerships.
They said that Wednesday was “an important day in our country’s proud history of supporting equality before the law”.
They wrote: “Spring of this year saw a seminal moment when the first marriages of same sex couples took place; today we complete another piece of the jigsaw by allowing same-sex couples already in civil partnerships to convert them into marriages if they wish.”
“We are absolutely delighted to be delivering on our promise to allow these conversions by Christmas and we are especially proud to be able to say, as of today, there is no reason in law why anyone cannot marry the person they love just because of their gender.”
Morgan and Boles added: “By opening marriage to all, we are making a statement about the fundamental importance of equality and acceptance in our society, acting as a beacon for the rest of the world.”
TfL also celebrated the change on Wednesday, painting a handful of London’s zebra crossings in rainbow colours, the universal symbol for LGBT pride.
Civil partnership conversions can take place in either a simple ceremony at a registry office or through a two-stage ceremony, where registrars may complete the conversion at a different venue which can be attended by family and friends.
Couples who entered into a civil partnership before March 29 will receive a £45 fee reduction for the first year.
Conversions may take place at any venue that has been registered for marriage, including some religious premises.