160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Prime Minister Tony Blair, speaking to reporters at a news conference, congratulated the couple for exercising their newfound legal right. Activists saw the union as a watershed moment for gay rights – a public expression of commitment that would be impossible to ignore. “This will give hope to millions of isolated, vulnerable, lesbian and gay people, especially those living in repressive and homophobic countries,” said Peter Tatchell, spokesman for the gay-rights group OutRage. The new law – passed last year – allows civil ceremonies that will give same-sex couples the same social security, tax, pension and inheritance rights as married couples. Furnish, a Canadian-born filmmaker, and John have been together for 12 years. Both have said they understand the implications of their union. “Being such a high-profile couple and the fact that we decided to do it straight away does carry a certain message,” John was quoted as saying by Attitude magazine. “I’m doing this first and foremost because I want to do it for David and I want to be with David for the rest of my life, but I also want to do it to say that (the civil union law) shouldn’t be something that just sits there in law. It should be embraced.” Britain’s showbiz royalty – Elton John and David Furnish – exchanged vows and diamond wedding bands during a ceremony that capped the first week of legalized gay civil unions in the United Kingdom. Opting to use the 17th-century town hall where Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles got married in April, John and Furnish sealed their union with a kiss before facing hundreds of photographers and fans on the cobbled streets outside. John, 58, and Furnish, 43, were among hundreds of same-sex couples tying the knot in England and Wales on Wednesday, the first day such ceremonies were possible. Others wed earlier this week in Northern Ireland and Scotland. “I think it’s amazing – it’s brilliant,” said Tim Alcock, 43, one of the onlookers.