Monday was the first day for couples to post notice of a civil partnership in the UK. These go up at local “Register Offices” two weeks before the ceremony, in the same procedure as marriages. The ceremony involves  making a formal declaration and signing documents confirming the Registration. The only difference between this and conventional marriages is that they need not be held in public and cannot take place in a church. One of the first couples will be Elton John and David Furnish who will marry in the same place as Prince Charles and Camilla.

While some local councils, who run the Register Offices, are ambivalent about the new role, others are atively promoting their facilities. A new industry of gay wedding planners, wedding cake accessories etc is taking off. The Times published its first three Announcements in the “births Deaths and Marriages” section of its classified advertisements.

Retailers, including chain stores are getting in on the act as the BBC report

A range of “Mr and Mr” and “Mrs and Mrs” cards will hit Asda supermarkets this week.

And sets of “Darling, Dearest, Queerest” embroidered towel and soaps went on sale at Superdrug stores on Friday

Asda (the name is a contraction of “Associated Dairies”) is the third or fourth largest supermarket chain. It was brought by Wal-Mart in 1999 and its large “superstores” are run under the Wal*Mart name.

Update [2005-12-6 21:49:30 by Londonbear]: The first ceremony took place on Monday in Worthing on the south coast of England. The standard 15 day waiting period was waived because one of the parteners was terminally ill. This is at the discretion of the Registrar and is often granted in such cases when heterosexual marriage is licenced.

Sadly one of the partners died on Tuesday so we now have the first “groom-groom” and the first widower under the new legislation. The ceremony means that he will be able to arrange the funeral as next-of-kin and will not have to pay inheritance tax on their joint home.

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