My Civil Partnership ceremony happened yesterday. Although it very nearly didn't - in true sitcom-style, my sister and brother-in-law, who were coming down from Leeds to be the witnesses, phoned late the night before to say their car had broken down on the motorway by Birmingham and they weren't sure whether they'd be able to make it. Although disappointed, I was more worried about them, and told them to just get their car towed home if the RAC couldn't patch up the problem. After about an hour though, it got sorted out, so they managed to get here for the "big day".
Although in fact it was about as low-key as you can imagine. We showed up, were ushered into a big room with a table, declined the offer to speak any ready-made vows and signed a document. We did have to speak one line each, which I think was more to show we understood what was happening, than anything else. As always, I get the desire to burst out laughing during anything "official", and had to suppress giggles during it. There was also a point where the registrar said "If anyone present knows any reason why these two people should not be civil partners then speak now...", which also made it feel a bit like a wedding.
Although the two women who administered the procedure admitted that it was still a new experience for them (I think they were worried about getting things wrong), they were very professional and made us feel welcome and normal, offering their congratulations at the end.
Afterwards, we stepped outside into a courtyard of an adjoining church, where previous couples had been married in the traditional sense. In a slightly campsy moment, I picked up some discarded confetti from the ground and threw it over us.
Then we went and had chips.
I am vaccilating between characterising the event as unimportant (we've been together for over a decade and already had a committment ceremony about 5 years ago), but also acknowledge that legally, it does make our positions much more secure. For example, I can say I am his next of kin now, if one of us is hospitalised. And we automatically inherit each other's stuff. It's also nice to know that future same-sex couples who get together will have this option from the start. It will help to normalise gay and lesbian relationships, and perhaps even give them a bit more gravitas, rather than being characterised as "affaires" or frivolous sex-based short-term things.