Liverpool Church hosts first religious Civil Partnership
A gay couple from the city had already booked a blessing for the bank holiday weekend, so when the registrars gave the go-ahead, they were able to sign the legal documents recognising their partnership after the service.
Kieran Bohan, 41, and Warren Hartley, 36, from Princes Park, who have been together for four and a half years, have been involved in groups for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of faith in Liverpool for several years.
Kieran is a member of Quest, the group for LGBT Catholics, and Warren co-ordinates a monthly Anglican Eucharist service for LGBT Christians.Together they coordinated Spectrum of Spirituality, the interfaith service for Liverpool Pride for the last two years.Kieran is originally from London but has lived in Liverpool for nine years. Warren’s father was from Liverpool and emigrated to Australia in the 1960s. Warren, born in Sydney, has lived in Liverpool for five and a half years.
Kieran, who runs an LGBT youth group, said: "When we booked our blessing over a year ago we had no idea that this would be possible. We are delighted to have achieved this milestone on the road to equality."
The couple originally planned to go to the register office the day before the blessing service. Warren, who works as an administrator, explained: "Bringing the two elements together means we are able to integrate our sexuality and our spirituality, to celebrate our love for each other and our love of God."
Angela Howard, the lay minister at Ullet Road Church, said: "Many of our Unitarian churches have conducted blessings for same sex couples, either to complement a legal civil union or simply to affirm a relationship, for many years. We are so pleased to have the first civil partnership on religious premises, but we will continue striving for all couples to have equal access to civil marriages, religious marriages and civil partnerships."
Registrar Janet Taubman said: "I am delighted that the couple got what they wanted - a religious celebration and legal recognition." Around 150 people attended the service, which the couple had written themselves using resources from various Christian traditions for same sex blessings.
Plans to allow religious buildings to host civil ceremonies were announced in February 2011, but the legislation was only implemented in December 2011 following public consultation.
The first church to become licensed to conduct civil partnerships was Cross Street Unitarian Chapel, Manchester in March, which does not have a couple booked until the autumn.