West Norfolk couples are all smiles as gay marriage is legalised

UGC image for Lynn News ANL-140327-113241001
UGC image for Lynn News ANL-140327-113241001

From tomorrow, gay couples will be allowed to marry following a historic change in UK legislation which has been welcomed by one West Norfolk couple.

A couple of nearly six years, Emily Rhodes, 24, and Tammy Whiteside, 26, of Fairstead, were thrilled by the change and now it’s full steam ahead as they plan their wedding for next June.

Emily said: “I think it’s about time really. Gay couples are so much more accepted now and it should be the same for everyone.

“We thought about having a civil partnership but it never felt like a real marriage, like it didn’t mean as much because it was looked at differently.”

The couple have raised three children together, from Tammy’s previous relationship, 11-year-old Corbon, eight-year-old Ellie and seven-year-old Logan, and the couple are looking forward to finally being considered a family in the eyes of the law.

Emily said: “I’ve raised the children with Tammy, but in a civil partnership I wouldn’t be counted as their step-mum so if anything happened to Tammy they would be sent to their dads. If we are married, the kids will be able to stay with me.

“It was like living in the dark ages but times are different now. We love each other and want to do all the things married couples do, so why shouldn’t we be married?”

The couple have booked their wedding and reception for next June and are excited about the big day.

Emily said: “It’s so exciting, the only difficulties we’re having is finding decorations - they all say Mr and Mrs!”

Couples have been allowed to unite in a civil partnership since December 2005.

Dr Clare Barlow and Lorna Booth had a civil partnership in Lynn in September 2012, but Dr Barlow still prefers to refer to Lorna as her wife rather than her partner.

Dr Barlow said: “The change in legislation isn’t just about equality, it’s also about recognising love and that in all important ways, gay relationships aren’t different.

“I think it’s great the law is catching up with the reality of peoples’ lives. I think it’s a wonderful thing.”

The couple were grateful to have received support from friends, families and the community during their union.

National charity Stonewall are among those who have been campaigning heavily for the change.

A spokesman for the charity said: “This is a historic moment for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, their families and their friends. This act will mean that, for the first time, children growing up to be gay in England and Wales will have full equality in law.”

From this June, same-sex couples will be allowed to legally marry in British embassies, consulates, high commissions and military bases.

By the end of 2014, those in civil partnerships will have the opportuity to convert their partnerships into full marriages.