GAY couples are queueing up to tie the knot at Crewe Register Office and be recognised as 'married' in law.

Staff at the Delamere Street wedding venue have been inundated with enquiries from gay and lesbian couples looking to seal their relationship by exchanging vows.

The interest comes before a change in the law on December 5 allowing same sex couples the rights of heterosexual pairings.

The Civil Partnership Act will give gay and lesbian couples equal rights over issues like property, tax and pensions.

Alan Clarke, Central Cheshire's superintendent registrar, based at Crewe, said: 'We have received more than 30 written requests from gay couples regarding bookings.

'We are receiving more enquiries daily by phone, letter and people calling in. As well as solidifying their financial position, the Act will give gay couples the right to call each other next of kin.'

Staff will attend training sessions next month on how to fill in forms and conduct the ceremonies.

The same legislation will apply to names being posted at the office for 15 days before the ceremony - so the first will take place on December 21.

And the civil ceremonies will also be held in approved venues like hotels.

Crewe Hall already has a December 22 booking from a male couple.

General manager Buddy Byrd said: 'We've received quite a few enquiries and expect many more after the Elton John ceremony in December.'

But while civil partnership gives gay couples a new legal status, the union will not be recognised by religious lead-ers.

The Rev Geoff Willetts, of West Street Baptist Church in Crewe, said: 'We recognise the positive value of committed friendship but marriage in the eyes of God is between man and woman and not two people of the same sex.

'This church would not be in favour of blessing a civil partnership.'

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