Men beat women to the altar as gay marriages top 6,500

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The Independent Online

More than 6,500 gay and lesbian couples tied the knot within four months of the first civil partnerships.

Men formed nearly double the number of same-sex legal unions as women, according to the General Register Office.

Westminster is the most popular registration authority for civil partnership ceremonies in England and Wales, with 238. Brighton and Hove (236) comes a close second, followed by Kensington and Chelsea (194) in third place.

Since December, when civil partnership ceremonies became legal in England and Wales, 6,516 same-sex couples got "married". Of those, 4,311 were male couples and 2,205 were female.

December saw an initial rush of ceremonies, with 1,901 partnerships formed in England and Wales. Numbers tailed off to 1,749, 1,518 and 1,348 in January, February and March respectively. In addition, nearly 350 same-sex couples tied the knot in Scotland between December and March.

The Civil Partnership Act came into force on 5 December, enabling same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship. The first ceremonies took place on 21 December, one day later than in Scotland.

Ben Spence, the managing director of the online gay and wedding store and information service Pink Products, said: "When commitment ceremonies were happening before civil partnerships, it seemed to be the women who were doing them.

"I think there has now been a surge in the number of guys ... who decided they needed legal rights for inheritance and tax purposes and have gone and done it."

Alison Cathcart, the superintendent registrar at Westminster Council, said: "We had experienced a slight drop in the number of marriages nationally, so with civil partnerships we have managed to bring our figures back up again to what it used to be. It has been very positive here."

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