One of the UK’s first same-sex marriages is taking place at Halifax Register Office on the first day of the new legislation giving equal marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.
Helen Brearley and Teresa Millward will marry at Spring Hall mansion, Huddersfield Road, tomorrow.
Following their Saturday morning ceremony, they will head to Shibden Hall, before a reception at Holdsworth House, for photographs and to pay homage to the Hall’s former landowner and mountaineer who throughout her life, from 1791-1840, kept diaries documenting her lesbian relationships.
Miss Millward said: “Helen and I have read her diaries. Anne Lister was spearheading this cause back in the 1800s. On such a historical day, it seems ideal to go there and pay homage to her.”
The couple met 11 years ago at a women’s group in Derby and have since returned to Meltham, Kirklees, where they run a T-Shirt printing business.
The couple said they intended to pledge their commitment to one another through a civil partnership, when legislation was passed in 2004, but a derogatory throw-away comment about a civil ceremony not being equal to heterosexual marriage deterred the couple.
Teresa said: “Commitment through a civil partnership could be devalued in one sentence - so we didn’t see the point in spending all that money.”
Teresa said the couple hope that by marrying on the first day of the new legislation it will send out a positive message to young girls.
“When I was young there were no positive gay role models. Gay people were labelled as promiscuous people who didn’t have long-term loving relationships.
“It is possible to have a job, car, family and a long-term loving relationship between same-sex couples.
“The fact that we’re making history on Saturday - it’s just fantastic.”
The couple will invite the media to their official and monumental wedding ceremony along with witnesses Vanessa and Sarah and friend Craig but will hold a humanist wedding for friends and family in their home town the following weekend where Teresa will tell guests in her speech: “Lesbian weddings are just like buses - you wait 11 years for one then two come along in a week.”
Calderdale Council’s registration team leader, Rachel Goult, said: “It’s a real privilege we can be involved in this historic ceremony. I’m so pleased that the couple picked Spring Hall mansion in Halifax as the venue for their special day.”