POOLE’S first same-sex marriage ceremony took place at the town’s Guildhall yesterday, just days after gay marriage became law across the country.

It was a small, intimate affair as Reverend Kersten Kirkland married her partner, Sue, in a service led by registrar, Debbie Fiveash, and witnessed by friends, family, and the family mascot, a small orange teddy, named Dewey.

Rev Kirkland, who works in the local community and holds regular Sunday services at her Parkstone home, said she hoped their wedding could help overcome prejudice surrounding the gay marriage issue.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, recently signalled that the Church of England must end its resistance to gay marriage, despite the law change causing bitter divisions among clergy.

Ordained archdeacon Rev Kirkland said: “Certainly in our local community this is a significant step. Both Sue and I were really looking forward to the day, so it is much better now that the law change has come into force.

“With civil partnerships, people always feel the need to point out it is not the same as marriage, and let’s face it, the reason they do this is because we are gay.

“I now have the right to call Sue my wife.”

Rev Kirkland, who has established The Fellowship of St Julian, says she is no stranger to bigotry and hopes the historic law change will, eventually, help create a more tolerant society.

“At the end of the day, it is better that people are gay and Christian, then not Christian at all,” she said.

Rev Kirkland added that the gospel message is about love and acceptance.

The happy couple spent the rest of the day enjoying the sunshine in Poole Park with the wedding party and later went out for a meal with their extended families.