People in same-sex relationships had, until 2004, no way of formally recognising their relationship or of enjoying the tax benefits, pensions and inheritance arrangements available to opposite-sex married couples.
The very first civil partnership ceremony took place on 5 December 2005 between Matthew Roche and Christopher Cramp at St Barnabas Hospice, Worthing, West Sussex. The statutory 15-day waiting period was waived as Matthew was suffering from terminal cancer; he died the next day.
The first partnership registered after the normal waiting period was between Shannon Sickles and Grainne Close at Belfast City Hall on 19 December 2005. Northern Ireland was the last place in Britain to decriminalise ‘homosexual acts’ and the Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign began on the same spot where Shannon and Grainne’s guests arrived. Their ceremony began with Dolly Parton’s Touch Your Woman. Shannon wore a white trouser suit and Grainne a similar suit in black; both wore flowers in their lapels and exchanged matching platinum and diamond rings.
Shannon told the Guardian "We could not be here without the hard work of many queer activists. We feel very privileged and blessed to be here doing this and look forward to having a wonderful day."
The first ceremonies in Scotland were on 20 December. John Maguire and Laurence Scott-Mackay were the first couple to celebrate their civil partnership on mainland Britain, something they told the Guardian was “a bit overwhelming.” The ceremony kicked off with a welcome from Calum Irving of Stonewall Scotland and went on to include a recital of A Man’s Ma by Robert Burns, a reading from Peter Pan and The Proclaimers song Sunshine on Leith.
"Today was important for us because we love each other, and for the first time our country is saying to us: "You guys are OK, your love is valid'," Mr Maguire said. "It's a fantastic revolution for the country. I'm just so pleased it can happen. To be honest, I never dreamed it would be possible."
"It means that I am not going to worry anymore about things like inheritance of our home, were I to die first. We both know of people who have lost their home because of the inheritance tax bill when one partner has died. I am as legal a person as anybody else. I am a full citizen at last. I never believed that moment would come."
Almost 700 civil partnerships were recorded on the same day as Roger’s and Percy’s. Most high profile of all was the one between Sir Elton John and David Furnish at Windsor’s Guildhall.