Lord Brian Paddick (right) and his husband Petter Belsvik
Although marriage equality in the United Kingdom doesn't take effect until March 29, 2014, a quirk in the law allowed those same-sex couples who were legally married elsewhere to have those unions recognized by the British government as of midnight March 13.
Legislation passed in January allowed gay and lesbian Britons who had been legally married in other countries to have those relationships formally recognized as marriages on the same day that same-sex couples with extenuating circumstances, like terminal illness or impending military deployment, could take advantage of the new law, according to BuzzFeed.
Among those couples whose marriage is now legal in England and Wales is Lord Brian Paddick, a liberal Democratic member of British Parliament, who married his husband Petter Belsvik in Norway in 2009. In an op-ed for U.K. LGBT outlet PinkNews, Paddick reflected on the five years between getting married and finally having that relationship recognized by the nation he represents.
"So began five years of feeling second-best in my own country where our marriage was recognized in the U.K. only as a gay-specific civil partnership," wrote Paddick. "I told the story of our Norwegian wedding to the Liberal Democrat Conference in 2010. My voice broke as I described what happened, unable to hold back the emotion I felt…
"Two weeks ago I told the story of our Norwegian wedding in the House of Lords debate on enabling secondary legislation on equal marriage," he continued. "I crumpled again. I cannot convey in words the significance and importance of equal marriage to me and to people like us."
But the newly available benefits don't just extend to members of parliament, as demonstrated by Celia Kitzinger and Sue Wilkinson, who married in Canada in 2003. The couple, both of whom are university professors, said they planned to commemorate the moment they become legal with a quiet moment at home.
"It’s like being turned into a pumpkin on the stroke of midnight," Kitzinger told BuzzFeed. "We’ll be sitting there in bed with a bottle of champagne and at the stroke of midnight we’ll turn into a married couple. We’re going away to a hotel, having a nice meal and the at midnight we’ll be wife and wife again!"
Same-sex couples in England and Wales who are not yet married can formally tie the knot beginning March 29.
Meet Kitzinger and Wilkinson in the video below.