January 26, 2020
The House of Bishops from the Church of England has released new pastoral guidance, saying that clergy must not provide a blessing for couples who have a mixed-sex civil partnership and that ‘marriage – that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity.’
Chair of the ECP campaign, Martin Loat, provides this reply on behalf of the campaign.
The recent statement from the Bishops – coming less than a month after the legal introduction of civil partnerships for all – makes the Church of England look even more out of step with the times.
If anything it shows how much society needs fresh institutions that reflect how people live today. One such is civil partnerships – a modern alternative to marriage that allows couples in relationships to strike a legal union in a way that works for them.
Quite apart from its long-running internal strife over same-sex relationships, the Church has now unnecessarily opened up a new battlefront with a larger group of people for whom a mixed-sex civil partnership represents a fitting and modern legal form for their commitment to each other.
The Church seeks to defend traditional heterosexual marriage. But it is that anachronistic image of a bride being given away by a father to “obey” her husband as a dutiful wife that set many modern-day couples seeking a different path.
And for the Church to tie itself in knots over “the appropriate place for sexual activity” only adds to that disillusionment.
The Government forecast that up to 84,000 couples could form a mixed-sex civil partnership in England & Wales in 2020 after the law came into effect in December 2019.
With the new legal protection, many will be planning to start a family. How will they explain to their children one day that the Church says that having sex in a civil partnership is “inappropriate”? The truth is that they probably won’t bother.
It is the Church of England that looks marginalised as civil partnerships enter the mainstream of society.
January 16, 2020
With your help, we did it! Mixed-sex Civil Partnerships became a legal reality in England and Wales in in December 2019 and in Northern Ireland this January.
But there is more to do in building mixed-sex civil partnerships as a lasting and popular institution. We want to keep supporting the community we have built up, answer questions and keep fighting for the rights of people who want a civil partnership. We want to work in Scotland to ensure that mixed-sex civil partnerships are introduced there. We want to keep reminding institutions and the media that a new relationship is possible.
However, we have exhausted our funds and resources through our long five year campaign. To keep going – with a part-time staff of one – we need your help. So we are asking for your support again. If you have benefited or plan to benefit from our campaign and want others to as well, please donate £5, £10 or whatever you can so that we can continue to promote Civil Partnerships for all.
Donations to the campaign can be made to https://www.gofundme.com/f/ECPcampaigns
Thank you for your support.
Everyone at the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign team
January 3, 2020
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
January 2, 2020
On December 31st hundreds of couples in England and Wales took advantage of their new legal right to register their relationship as a mixed-sex civil partnership.
Among the couples were Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan who returned to Kensington and Chelsea Register Office at 10.30 am on December 31st, the place where they had been turned away five years ago, now finally able to enjoy the legal relationship of their choice.
Following the registration, the couple issued this statement.
Rebecca: We’ve just signed the Register here at Kensington and Chelsea Register Office, and have formed a civil partnership with each other. Finally!
Today, as one decade ends and another dawns, we have become civil partners in law. Our personal wish to form a civil partnership was rooted in our desire to formalise our relationship in a more modern way, focused on equality and mutual respect.
So today is a unique, special and personal moment for us: a moment when we have been able to affirm our love and commitment to one another in the company of our beautiful children, Eden and Ariel, and close friends, and have that love and commitment given legal recognition in the way that best reflects who we are, what we love and the life we value.
Charles: Becca and I have shared much joy, and supported each other through the strains of life, and loss. We have gained so much through the years of trying to become civil partners – new friends, skills – even notoriety – but also confidence and belief in our own agency and capability. Against all odds, we succeeded in a legal battle against the Government and then they did what we asked for all along. Not many people can say that!
But we both know that with everything gained, some things risked being lost, or at least un-spoken. Through this long journey and hard fought battle, our mental health has suffered, our ability to be civil to each other has been tested, and, crucially, we missed out on that important moment to state clearly what we mean to each other – not just what we’ve become in the eyes of others. So we’re grateful to, and wish to thank, everyone who has supported us on this journey so that we could finally do that in private a few moments ago.
Rebecca: Thousands of other people across the country will be forming civil partnerships of their own in the coming decade. What began as a personal issue has become so much more than that. There is now a space for new, more modern possibilities for people to express their love and commitment to one another. The urgent need to reform cohabitation law so that social policy keeps up with the reality of family life in modern Britain has been brought into greater focus. And by ending the unrivalled position of marriage we have helped to create the space for deeper discussions about giving legal recognition to other types of personal and caring relationships, such as those between friends, siblings and co-parents.
There’s no social script to civil partnerships and you can do whatever feels right for you. Some couples will want to celebrate with an elaborate ceremony and big party. But the beauty is that you can form them at minimal cost, without fanfare.
Charlie, I hope that you and I, and Eden and Ariel, enjoy many years of civilly partnered life together! I love you.