Credit: Chrysoulla Photography
We’ve done it! Mixed-sex Civil Partnerships available in England and Wales
A new decade dawns for a new form of union for couples
Martin Loat, Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign Chair
Well, what an amazing journey to full equality it has been!
As Chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, I can confidently say that, after five years of campaigning, three legal cases and several stages of political manoeuvring, our wishes came true on New Year’s Eve. (Certainly in England and Wales, in Northern Ireland very soon and, hopefully, after a consultation period in Scotland in the coming months.)
It was wonderful to see so many couples from our supporter base show up at register offices up and down England and Wales on the 31 st December and form their civil partnerships their way and on their terms.
At the ECP campaign we think around 300 couples partnered up that day. The Government Equality Office’s own figures estimate that up to 84,000 mixed-sex couples will follow suit and form their own civil partnerships in 2020. What a result!
At the centre of it all, of course, were Rebecca and Charles becoming civil partners at the earliest opportunity at Kensington and Chelsea register office – the very place where they were shown the door and refused permission five years ago for having the nerve to ask for equality and civil union that was available to some but not to them.
Millions saw them (and their two beautiful daughters!) on the news on New Year’s Eve. The media lapped up the story.
Of course, behind the front two, every winning team needs others playing their part in vital positions.
So besides saluting Charles and Rebecca for their fortitude, poise and stamina (and I know it’s been hard at times), I’d like to also thank:
Fellow ECP campaign board member Fiona Millar for her wise counsel.
Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, for pushing the law change through Parliament over the past three years (helped by Baroness Hodgson in the Lords).
Our advisors including legal expert Prof Robert Wintemute, veteran campaigner Peter Tatchell and Elsie Owusu (OBE).
Our small, but obviously-effective, campaign team of Ben Rich (political strategist) and Anni Johnson (campaign, website and media manager) who made us punch above our weight time and time again.
Penny Mordaunt MP and Victoria Atkins MP for showing how Government ministers could be supportive.
Matt Hawkins and Clare Phipps who helped with the campaign in its earlier days (and who, like myself and my partner Claire, went to the Isle of Man to get a CP before the position at home was resolved).
The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust for their financial grants to the campaign fund.
Everyone who donated, joined in our Facebook and Twitter discussion or signed the online petition and helped to create this amazing community.
And I hope I’ve done my bit too.
We at the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign now need to pause for breath and re-group in the coming weeks to decide what – if anything – we do next. After all, how do you follow that? We’ll let you know soon as we can.
Whatever happens next for us, it is true that what we have achieved as a campaigning group with the help of you – our supporters reading this – has permanently re-shaped British civic society for the better. Of that we can be immensely proud.
We’ve made history…and social policy, new law and a modern relationship form that’s right for our times and generations to come.
Thank you for being on the journey with us.
Equal Civil Partnerships