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July 19, 2018

Statement from ECP Chair, Martin Loat – Private Members Bill in Committee.

On Wednesday July 18th, Tim Loughton, MP, took his Private Members Bill through the committee stage of its passing. ECP Chair, Martin Loat, has provided a personal statement on what happened and what our next steps are.

Government commits to shorten its (unnecessary) research into civil partnerships.
Minister responds to pressure following Supreme Court ruling.
We’re making progress in our campaign to get the Government to change the law, following the Supreme Court ruling that it should (two different things !)
Three weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that it’s illegal for the Government not to allow civil partnerships for all couples, the Government has made its first move.
MP Tim Loughton’s private members bill that (among other things) seeks to allow civil partnerships for all, reached the “committee stage” in its passage through Parliament this week. In this meeting, Victoria Atkins, the  Government minister responding, publicly stated for the first time that her boss, Penny Mordaunt, the Minister for Women and Equalities, has instructed that government research into demand for and attitudes into civil partnerships be concluded “by the end of this year”.
This is an improvement on the ridiculous three-year process they had announced when Tim’s bill was last aired in Parliament.
The ECP campaign would have liked to see this unnecessary and face-saving “research and consultation” process scrapped altogether and the law changed immediately. This is because opening up CPs to all is the only realistic option for achieving equality, so not much more debate is needed!
But we have to be pragmatic and realise that ministers don’t like to be seen making U-turns! And Tim Loughton’s bill is in progress and – for now at least – probably the best practical vehicle to get the law change that we want through Parliament.
All eyes will now be on the next  “Report stage” of the Bill  (probably on 26 October)
by which time we expect the Government to firm up its intentions on when and how, with its own research largely or completely concluded. This will enable certain amendments to be made to the Bill to facilitate a law change (as opposed to merely a consultation).
Over the summer your ECP campaign team will be keeping the pressure up and seeking a face to face meeting with Penny Mordaunt MP. We will make clear how much support there is for equal civil partnerships and that the Government is on “borrowed time” now that the Supreme Court has ruled so strongly.
But we will demand positive action and intent after the summer break and in the run up to 26 October. We may well be asking supporters to get involved further in the campaign come the Autumn.
And, of course, you can still send a postcard to Penny Mordaunt yourself to let her know that you are glad the research time will be shorter but it is still not necessary as equality for all is the only option.
Martin Loat
Chair, Equal Civil Partnerships campaign 

 

July 4, 2018

Letter to Penny Mordaunt, MP, Minister for Women and Equalities

On June 27th, after the Supreme Court Judgment, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan delivered a letter to Penny Mordaunt MP at the Department for International Development to be read in her capacity as Minister for Women and Equalities.

This is the text of the letter.

Re: After today’s Supreme Court ruling, open civil partnerships to all now

Dear Ms. Mordaunt,

On 1st October 2014, we walked into Chelsea Register office to form a civil partnership. But we were turned away because, we were told, civil partnerships were not for opposite-sex couples.

Four years on, we continue to build our relationship as a partnership of equals, and try to set the best example for our two small children, Eden and Ariel. Legal protection and financial security have become more important now that we have a family of our own. But we continue to be denied these protections, along with over three million other cohabiting couples – the fastest growing family type in the UK.

We know that you and the Government share our commitment to families and equality. So, it is lamentable that we have been forced to go all the way to the Supreme Court simply to make sure that the same rights are available to all. You can and must put this right.

The Government has already acknowledged that the current situation is unequal, unfair and unsustainable. Of the two options available to achieve equality – extension and abolition – you yourself have publicly assured Stonewall that abolition is not an option.

So, we urge you to seize the opportunity to turn defeat into victory: Declare today that you will legislate within this Parliamentary session to extend civil partnerships to all. You can use the “fast-track amendment procedure” in Article 10 to take remedial action or you can back Tim Loughton’s original Private Members Bill.

You can be the minister that completes the circle of full relationship equality. Please seize this historic opportunity.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Rebecca Steinfeld and Mr Charles Keidan

July 4, 2018

Statements outside Supreme Court 27 June 2018

After the landmark victory at the Supreme Court on 27 June 2018, both Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan made statements to the waiting press and well-wishers.

Rebecca Steinfeld

Well, we have won our legal battle!

The highest court in the land has stated, unequivocally and unanimously – five, nil – that there is no, and never has been any, justification for what they call a ‘manifest inequality of treatment.’

Thank you to our formidable legal team: our solicitor Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn, and Karon Monaghan and Sarah Hannett of Matrix Chambers. This resounding victory would not have been possible without them.

Today, we are a step closer to opening civil partnerships to all, a measure that would be fair, popular and good for families and children across

We are elated, but to get this far, Charlie and I have had to go toe-to-toe with the Government over four long years, confronting four Equalities Ministers across three courts. They have wasted taxpayers’ money to defend and maintain a blatant inequality. So please forgive us if today, alongside the satisfaction we feel, we also feel a degree of sorrow and frustration at the delays, obstruction and official resistance we’ve experienced.

Charles Keidan

People are already suffering because of the Government’s delays.

Joanna and Steve are a different-sex couple with three grown up children. Like us, they want to formalise their relationship in a civil partnership. But Steve has terminal cancer, so time is running out.

Today’s Declaration of Incompatibility from the Supreme Court means that the Government is legally bound to end the difference in treatment between same-sex and different-sex couples’ access to civil partnerships, most likely by extending them to all or by abolishing them.

Human rights law is meant to work progressively, giving everyone the same advantages, not the same disadvantages. The Minister for Women and Equalities, Penny Mordaunt MP, has already publicly assured the UK’s leading LGBT organisation, Stonewall, that civil partnerships will be retained for same-sex couples.

Therefore, there is only one option: to extend civil partnerships to all.

For the sake of Joanna and Steve, and thousands of other couples across the country, we hope that the Government will act with urgency.

It is within their power – and indeed it is their duty – to do so.

So we say to Ms. Mordaunt: Please use the “fast-track amendment procedure” in Article 10 to take remedial action now or back Tim Loughton’s original Private Members Bill.

You can be the minister that completes the circle of full relationship equality. Please seize this historic opportunity.

Rebecca Steinfeld

We wouldn’t be in the position we are today without the encouragement and support we’ve received from people across the UK.

Gathered here are a small number of the 132,000 of you who have signed our Change.org petition. We are so happy to be standing alongside you. Thank you for sharing with us your personal stories. They have kept us going through the long journey to this resounding victory.

Special thanks go to the campaign steering group who have stuck together and been with us all the way through the highs and lows.

Today we’ve won in court and we are celebrating this major and hopefully defining milestone! But the fight for civil partnerships doesn’t end here. It can and must go on unless and until civil partnerships are extended to all couples. So please continue to back the campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships on GoFundMe.

The law is on our side. Now the Government must join us in doing the right thing. Open civil partnerships to all.

Thank you for your support.