Ross and Roger 

PARTNERSHIP REGISTRATION

City Hall, London, 14th September 2002

Celebrant: Dominic Davies – Civil Ceremonies


Our ceremony was in the following parts

 

 

 

Back to "Our Partnership"


Opening music:

I would choose you, sung by Jallen Rix

Something inside so strong by Labi Siffre, sung by the London Gay Men's Chorus.

 

Introduction

Roger and Ross greeted their guests in the foyer of City Hall. Dominic Davies, the Celebrant, led the guests to “London’s Living Room” on the top floor with its outstanding views of Tower Bridge. When all were settled, Ross and Roger entered and took their places at the front.

Celebrant: Welcome to this wonderful new City Hall. We are here a week before the building opens to the public and so you are privileged not only to be guests at this special ceremony/but to have a preview of the amazing views of London that this building affords.

My name is Dominic Davies and I have been engaged by Roger and Ross to act as their Celebrant.

I'd like to welcome you all here. I know some of you have come from far and wide. I've been told some of you have come from as far away as Derby, and that's a lot further in my mind than the USA! However, of the American contingent, I believe Ross's cousin Ann travelled across on the fateful September 11th which I think shows particular courage and commitment to your friendship with Ross and Roger. Hopefully everyone has now settled down and any butterflies and anxieties can be chased away, and that you can all relax and enjoy the day. I know how much the participation in this special day, of each and every one of you, means to Ross and Roger.

We've come here to witness Ross and Roger register their partnership on the GLA Partnership Register. They have been together for more than four years, but only in the last year has it been possible to make their partnership official. Registration has no legal status. It will not give them the rights or protection of married couples, but the fact that it is now possible to register their relationship at all is a cause for real celebration for them.

Roger and Ross didn't want merely to sign the register - they could have done that quietly on their own - they also wanted to make their commitment to each other explicit and public. So they're going to ask you, their family and friends, to act as their witnesses.

Societies have always had ceremonies to recognise partnerships because partnerships involve family and society as well as the couple. And we've drawn from many different sources and traditions, some of them very old, in this ceremony.

The ceremony will fall into three parts:

  • first an exchange of vows following the traditional pattern and symbolised in an exchange of rings,

  • second the signing of the register,

  • and finally I will invite you all to be the witnesses of Ross and Roger's vows, and to express your support for their commitment to each other.

Roger and Ross both thought long and hard about the form that this celebration should take, and the vows they should make to each other, drawing on their experience of previous relationships. They are both aware that relationships don't always last, and they've begun this relationship with considerable care. Relationships take many forms, and may be valid even if they last only for a short time. But there is a special value to a relationship that both partners intend to last for the rest of their lives. Ross and Roger are now certain that they are ready for a life-long commitment, and they both intend and expect this relationship to last.

I'd like to invite Chris to come and read a poem.

 

First Reading:

When I heard at the close of the day

When I heard at the close of the day how my name had been receiv’d with plaudits in the capitol, still it was not a happy night for me that follow’d,

And else when I carous’d, or when my plans were accomplish’d, still I was not happy,

But the day when I rose at dawn from the bed of perfect health, refresh’d, singing, inhaling the ripe breath of autumn,

When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and disappear in the morning light,

When I wander’d alone over the beach, and undressing bathed, laughing with the cool waters, and saw the sun rise,

And when I thought how my dear friend my lover was on his way coming, O then I was happy,

O then each breath tasted sweeter, and all that day my food nourish’d me more, and the beautiful day pass’d well,

And the next came with equal joy, and with the next at evening came my friend,

And that night while all was still I heard the waters roll slowly continually up the shores,

I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands as directed to me whispering to congratulate me,

For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same cover in the cool night,

In the stillness in the autumn moonbeams his face was inclined toward me,

And his arm lay lightly around my breast – and that night I was happy.

Walt Whitman, 1819 – 1892

 

Part 1: The Vows

Celebrant: Roger and Ross will now read some words that they have written, independently, about their feelings for each other. Neither Ross nor Roger knows what the other has written.

Roger: To me, you are a wonderful person. You've been good to be with when things are going well; you’re always interesting and knowledgeable, and wonderful to share things with.

You're kind and supportive, and help to keep me on track when things are bad. You give me stability, strength and direction when I'm distressed. I need that.

We do so much together and have such good times when things are going well, and with you I can achieve much more.

And I can relate to you better than to anyone else, and just can't believe how lucky I am.

 Ross: When I first met you, you impressed me with your honesty, your integrity, and your concern for other people. Since we became a family you've willingly taken on far more than your fair share of the family responsibilities.

Being with you during the day is always a joy, even when we're doing the simplest tasks together, and I love holding you at night.

I know you'll never let me down, and I hope I can live up to you in all the years ahead.

Celebrant: Roger and Ross, will you seek to recognise and accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses; to offer your love without conditions, and to trust its ebbs and flows, understanding that its nature may change?

Ross and Roger: We will.

Celebrant: Roger, will you have Ross as your life partner; will you love him, support him and stand by him through good times and through bad?

Roger: I will.

Celebrant: Ross, will you have Roger as your life partner; will you love him, support him and stand by him through good times and through bad?

Ross: I will.

Celebrant: This is one of the oldest parts of European partnership ceremonies.

Roger (taking Ross by the right hand): Ross, I promise to share my life with you, to love you, care for you, be honest and open with you, support you in times of joy and trouble, and never let anything or anyone come between us.

Ross (taking Roger by the right hand): Roger, I promise to share my life with you, to love you, care for you, be honest and open with you, support you in times of joy and trouble, and never let anything or anyone come between us.

Celebrant: Ross and Roger will now exchange rings in token of their love and commitment. These rings which you will give and receive, serve as a symbol of vows you have just taken. They are outward and visible signs of the inward and visible love which binds your hearts together. As rings are without edge or seams, have no beginning and no end, so they symbolise your enduring love and commitment.

Roger (putting a ring on Ross’s finger): All that I am I give to you, all that I have I share with you. Take this ring in token of our love. Wear it always, and when I am not with you, look upon it and think of me.

Ross (putting a ring on Roger’s finger): All that I am I give to you, all that I have I share with you. Take this ring in token of our love. Wear it always, and when I am not with you, look upon it and think of me.

Part 2: The Registration

Celebrant: The next part of the ceremony is the actual Partnership Registration. Some months ago Ross and Roger submitted documents to establish their identity and address, so that putting their signatures to the certificate today completes the Registration. They will now sign the register, authenticated by the Greater London Authority's Registering Officer.

Roger and Ross signed two copies of the certificate,
followed by the Registering Officer, who then stamped
Ross and Roger’s copy with the official stamp.

Celebrant: For many centuries in this country, when a couple (including a same-sex couple) pledged to each other as life partners, they would make their vows in public, at the church door, and seal them with a kiss.

Inasmuch as Roger and Ross have consented to live together in love, mutual respect and understanding, having registered their partnership, taken their vows and exchanged rings, I now pronounce them life partners.

Roger and Ross embraced and kissed each other.
The guests broke into loud applause

Celebrant: With their faith in each other

Let them be devoted to each other.

May the warmth of their love, in the kindness of their home

Allow them to be charitable to others.

As the years go by, may they learn

How great is the joy that comes from sharing
And how deep the love that grows from giving.

 

Second Reading:

Love’s Tranquility

My true love hath my heart, and I have his,

By just exchange one for another given.

I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss:

There never was a better bargain driven.

My true love hath my heart and I have his.

His heart in me keeps him and me in one,

My heart in him, his thought and senses guides:

He loves my heart, for once it was his own:

I cherish his, because in me it bides:

My true love hath my heart, and I have his.

Sir Philip Sidney, 1554 – 1586.

Part 3: Support of the witnesses

Celebrant: Many people have reservations about the completeness and value of a relationship between people of the same sex, and of those who've had other relationships before. So this final part of the ceremony is the opportunity for those who sincerely wish to support Roger and Ross in their relationship to say so.

Partnerships are not just about romance, mutual support or “mutually beneficial arrangement.” Partnerships are a part of families and of communities. They bring families together: they are part of the cement that binds society together. So Ross and Roger have invited you, as family and friends, to be witnesses to their vows and to the registration.

And partnerships in turn need support from both family and the community. Partnerships are too often under pressure - illness, disability, unemployment, and stress - not least gay partnerships. And when things get difficult for Roger and Ross it will be to you, the family and friends who came to support them here today, that they will turn for help, advice and support.

So this is your opportunity to take your part in Roger and Ross' commitment in the words that follow. Please repeat each line after me:

Celebrant: We witness here the registration of this partnership

Guests: We witness here the registration of this partnership

Celebrant: The promises that Ross and Roger made

Guests: The promises that Ross and Roger made

Celebrant: We share their joy in their relationship

Guests: We share their joy in their relationship

Celebrant: And wish them well in their life together.

Guests: And wish them well in their life together.

Celebrant: And will you, as close family and friends, support Ross and Roger in their relationship, as they love, support and serve each other, their families and the community, and will you be there for them, in times of stress, if they need someone to turn to for help and counsel?

Guests: We will.

Conclusion

Celebrant: Roger and Ross, you have made a solemn commitment to each other; you are formally registered as partners; and your family and friends have come here today to witness your vows and the registration, to support you and to express their good wishes.

Remember this day, those who came to wish you well, the words you have spoken, the emotions you feel, and the rings that symbolise all the meaning of this occasion. Go forward in your life together with the good wishes of those who love you ringing in your ears, go forward to a life of joy and fulfilment and peace.

 

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