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Brides to be set to be the first same-sex married couple in Worcestershire
Updated 9:48am Wednesday 26th March 2014 in News
Annie Perry and Isabel Swift, on holiday in Thailand, will hold the county's first same-sex marriage (s)
IT WILL be a historic moment when brides-to-be Annie Perry and Isabel Swift leave the register office on Saturday afternoon.
The couple, who live in Worcester, are set to hold the county's first same-sex marriage following a change in the law which comes into effect on their wedding day.
After Miss Swift surprised her girlfriend by proposing on top of the Empire State Building last August, the couple brought their wedding forward by three months so it could be held on the monumental day.
It will be a small ceremony with 25 family members and close friends followed by a wedding breakfast at a hotel nearby.
They will end their special day with a party.
Miss Perry, who works for Natural England, said it was the equality the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 gave to same-sex couples which made it so important.
The changes allow same-sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies or in religious ceremonies where the religious organisation has 'opted in' to conduct such ceremonies and the minister agrees.
However, it is still not possible for couples of the same sex to marry according to the rites of the Church of England and Church in Wales.
The 27-year-old said: "When we got engaged they were discussing it in Parliament but at that point we didn't know when it was going to become law.
"We had decided to get married around July this year then when we heard it would be legal from March 29 we thought we would do it on the first day as we thought it was a nice statement.
"What was important for us was the equality part of the act, it will be recognised as the same thing as a marriage of a man and a woman."
Civil partners can now convert their partnerships to a marriage and the Act also allows married people to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage
Miss Perry and Miss Swift, aged 33, first met five years ago in a Worcester pub and have travelled the world together teaching in Malaysia and south east Asia.
The couple returned to England and lived in Stratford-upon-Avon and, in August, moved back to Worcester.
Thirteen couples have so far given 15-day statutory notice of marriage since Thursday, March 13, the earliest date possible for same-sex couples to register.
A Worcestershire County Council spokesman welcomed the upcoming nuptials.
“This is great news for same sex couples across the county and we have already taken 13 notices of marriage from couples seeking to tie the knot."
Miss Swift said a lot of friends had asked why being married mattered.
"I think it does matter. If society deems you can only refer to yourself in law by the word ‘partner’, a word that is not only used between couples in less committed relationships but also in a wide range of other contexts, then it does devalue as well as seemingly categorise your relationship as something different from a "traditional" marriage.
"Even though this is a great step forward we’ve got to remember that, according to Stonewall figures, 55 per cent of LGBT children suffer from homophobic bullying in the UK."
After their wedding, Miss Swift and Miss Perry have decided to take Miss Swift's surname and will legally change their middle names to Perry.
Miss Perry said: "I don't think the new Act will change anything negatively at all, I think it is a brilliant step forward to acceptance and equality with same sex relationships as you would with heterosexual relationships.
"Slowly it will become not such a big deal in society and a same sex marriage won't be news - it's just the same as any other marriage which will be brilliant.
"I think we will get to the point where people won't even raise an eyebrow."
As they now carry out the final few preparations ahead of their big day, the couple said they had received nothing but support for their decision to marry.
Miss Swift said: "Stepping towards true equality in which relationships between two women or between two men can viewed as being no different to those between men and women is extremely important and one of the reasons I am so happy to be marrying the woman I love with all my heart, on the first day that the Equal Marriage Bill begins."
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