A LESBIAN couple from East Yorkshire who exchanged wedding rings almost ten years ago have now become one of the first gay couples in the UK to be legally married.

Sue Wilkinson and her partner Celia Kitzinger were married in Canada in 2003 but haven't worn their wedding rings in the UK since 2006 when their challenge to the country's refusal to recognise same-sex marriage was rejected by a High Court Judge.

Today, as of 12.01am, their marriage was legally recognised in this country when the 2013 Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act came into force, and the couple - who are both university professors - welcomed the introduction.

Professor Wilkinson, 60, of Howden, said:"It just felt so daft, a heterosexual couple that gets married is married everywhere in the world.

"I wouldn't want to knock civil partnerships as they were a huge step forward for lesbian and gay rights. But we already had a marriage in Canada and we didn't want a different and special status in the UK."

Professor Kitzinger, 57, who works in the sociology department at the University of York, said: "We were not surprised to lose at the time and it was only eight years ago.

"We said this judgement will not stand the test of time and we would look forward to the day when there would be full equality, we didn't expect it to change so quickly."

Same sex couples not already in civil partnerships can now give notice of their intention to marry, though the ceremonies cannot take place until March 29.

Profs Wilkinson and Kitzinger will take part in an event at the University of York on March 29 to celebrate their marriage.