First gay marriages in the UK will take place at the stroke of midnight tonight
For many gay couples, the big day they have long fought for has finally arrived
The first same-sex marriages in the UK will take place at the stroke of midnight tonight, after years of tireless campaigning by gay couples fighting to have their unions recognised by law.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act came into force in July last year, but it was not until 13 March that couples were able to register their intention to marry under the Act for the first time.
Campaigners who spent years battling for the legalisation of gay marriage will see the historic law enacted at midnight, despite objections from the Church of England and some members of the Conservative party.
Civil partnerships were introduced in England and Wales in 2005 to provide gay couples with the same legal rights as heterosexual partners, but campaigners continued fighting to have their marriages recognised by law.
A number of couples are hoping to claim the title of being the first ever to be married in Britain by trying to time it perfectly so their vows are said at 12.01am.
Peter McGraith and David Cabreza, who have been together for 17 years, said they wanted to wed as soon as the marriage laws changed.
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.”
Read more: Same-sex marriage is about to become legal
Why I'm turning my gay wedding into a Channel 4 musical
Couples look forward to the big day at Gay Wedding Show
Also vying for the title of first same-sex couple to marry in Britain will be Brighton couple Andrew Wale and Neil Allard. The pair will wed in Brighton's famous Royal Pavilion.
Sue Wilkinson, 60, and Celia Kitzinger, 57, tied the knot in Canada in 2003 and fought for eight years to have their union recognised here.
They took their fight to the High Court in 2006, when a judge refused to make a declaration that their marriage was valid in this country.
But, due to the change in the law, their marriage became legally binding at one minute past midnight on 13 March.
Ruth Hunt, acting chief executive of gay rights charity Stonewall, said: "Saturday is a momentous day for England and Wales, as the first same-sex marriages mark full legal equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
"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."
- 2 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
Jennifer Lawrence: Leaked 4Chan sex video branded 'fake' by users
Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...
£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Central Lon...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers requi...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Head of Technology needed for a Outsta...