Thanet District Council backing for same-sex marriage
Thanet District Council has become the first local authority in Kent to officially support the government's proposals for same-sex marriage.
Independent Councillor Ian Driver moved the motion in support of equal marriage and said he hoped it would encourage other Kent councils to follow its lead.
He said it showed the council cared about the civil rights of its large lesbian, gay and transgender community.
The vote followed the start of the government's consultation on the issue.'Economy boost'
Civil partnerships, introduced in 2005, already give gay couples similar legal rights to married couples.
But the government wants them to be legally allowed to make vows and declare they are married before the next general election, due in 2015.
In his speech to the council on Thursday night, Mr Driver highlighted the economic benefits to Thanet's economy.
"If equal marriage becomes law I estimate that there will be 20 to 30 same sex marriages in Thanet every year.
"The average couple spends £15,000 on their wedding so that's £450,000 being spent every year which will be a massive boost to local business and jobs," he said.
Councillors also heard that equal civil marriage would stop discrimination as gay people would not have to reveal their sexuality by declaring they were in a civil partnership.