MEET Sunderland’s first officially married gay couple.
Dawn and Emma Donkin tied the knot during an emotional wedding ceremony at the Civic Centre on April 22.
The women, who have been in a relationship for nine years, were stunned when they heard that theirs was the city’s first gay marriage, and said they hope it paves the way for more couples to follow suit.
Dawn, 33, a counter assistant at a takeaway, said: “It was the best day of my life.
“It was very emotional, everyone was crying, even the registrar.”
Dawn and Emma, 30, a cleaner for Mitie Cleaning Services, live in High Barnes.
Legislation making gay marriage legal was passed in March.
Dawn added: “We found out about it on the news. Then when we spoke to the registrar and she offered us a civil ceremony or a marriage, we took the marriage.
“A civil service would have still been like a marriage to us because we have been together for so long, but we chose the legal marriage because we could.
“On our first wedding anniversary we will have been together for 10 years.”
The couple, who are parents to daughter Phenix, 14, and son Jackson, 10, kept the fact that theirs is the city’s first gay marriage a secret from family and friends until the big day.
Dawn added: “The registrar said we had made history becoming Sunderland’s first married gay couple.
“Everyone was crying and cheering when they found out.
“Our families are backing us and don’t see us as any different from anyone else.”
The pair are now hoping that their marriage will inspire others to follow suit. Dawn said: “People should go for it if they want to do it.
“It was amazing and I hope it gives other people the confidence to do it.
“I think gay couples are becoming more confident in the city compared to a few years ago.
“It’s better for people now, but what some people think is wrong, is normal for us.
“It’s just our life.”