Britain's most famous gay couple — Sir
Elton John and Canadian filmmaker David Furnish — tied the knot on
Wednesday in a star-studded event that capped the first week of civil
partnership ceremonies in the United Kingdom.
Cameras flickered as hordes of photographers and fans huddled together in
the cobbled streets around Windsor's town hall, the Guildhall, where
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles wed in April. John, 58, and
Furnish, 43, walked out smiling, waving and raising their thumbs after the
ceremony as an attendant threw rice at the couple.
After the ceremony, John and Furnish celebrated over a quiet lunch with
their parents, reports CBS News reporter Larry Miller
Later, in at least three big circus tents on the grounds of their mansion,
700 guests will be drinking pink champagne and partying big time. The
reception and lamb dinner is said to be costing $2 million.
The couple are among hundreds of same-sex couples to wed in civil
partnerships in England and Wales on Wednesday, the first day that
such ceremonies become possible. Ceremonies were held earlier this week in
Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Three couples signed their documents moments after the register office
opened at 8 a.m. (0800 GMT) in Brighton, the south coast city known as
Britain's gay capital.
Suzi Uprichard, 33, of Maidenhead, among the crowd in Windsor, was excited
to be at what she described as a historic day for same-sex couples.
"It's a long time coming really," Uprichard said. "Admittedly,
it's Elton and David's day, but it's the first day that gay couples can
engage in civil ceremonies in ... England. So I think it's something
Police erected security barriers outside building but expected no trouble.
Relaxed officers, some on horseback, chatted with photographers, who stood
four and five deep on the streets outside the Guildhall.
Fans got into the spirit of the event with posters featuring the couple
and Queen Elizabeth II, who has a castle in Windsor, a centuries-old seat
of British royalty west of London. A nearby shop wished the couple well
with handpainted sign saying "go for it."
Gay rights activists see the unions as joyous — and important in
advancing efforts to give same-sex couples the same rights as
heterosexuals. Peter Tatchell, spokesman for the gay and lesbian human
rights group OutRage! said the wedding "would raise the profile of
gay love and commitment."
"Their same-sex civil partnership ceremony will be reported all over
the world including in countries where news about gay issues is normally
never reported," he said. "This will give hope to millions of
isolated, vulnerable, lesbian and gay people especially those living in
repressive and homophobic countries."
Furnish, a Canadian-born filmmaker, and John have been together for 12
Their reception is expected to be a star-studded extravaganza.
British tabloids claim the giant white tents will be heated adequately to
warm the hundreds of guests in skimpy evening gowns.
Guests at the couple's bachelor night on Monday — a prelude to the
bigger reception on Wednesday — included heavy metal rocker turned
reality TV star Ozzy Osbourne and his wife Sharon, model and actress Liz
Hurley and musicians Bryan Adams, Gary Barlow and Kid Rock.
The new law — passed last year despite some opposition from Parliament's
unelected House of Lords — allows civil ceremonies that will give
same-sex couples the same social security, tax, pension and inheritance
rights as married couples.
John and Furnish acknowledged that their ceremony might have broader
"As far as I'm concerned I've always considered myself committed to
Elton and he's the person that I want to spend the rest of my life with.
So in that sense I don't feel like the dynamic of our relationship is
going to change," Furnish told Attitude magazine. "But from a
social standpoint, I think its hugely significant. It is a major, major
change. It is one of the defining issues of our times."