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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.

June 27, 2018

Win at the Supreme Court!

The Supreme Court has declared the Government’s refusal to allow opposite-sex civil partnerships ‘incompatible’ with human rights law!

The Government will now have to end the unequal situation whereby same-sex couples can chose between marriage and civil partnerships but opposite-sex couples only have access to marriage.  Penny Mordaunt MP, the Equalities Minister, has previously publicly ruled out the option of abolishing same-sex civil partnerships, leaving the Government with only one option: extending civil partnerships to all.

Charles and Rebecca have expressed their relief and elation at this resounding victory in their four-year legal battle. Thanking over 132,000 supporters who have signed a Change.org petition in support of their case, they urged the Government to use the fastest possible legislative route to make civil partnerships available to all.  They say:

“We have fought this battle not only on our own behalf but for 3.3 million unmarried couples in England and Wales. Many want legal recognition and financial protection, but cannot have it because they’re not married and because the choice of a civil partnership is not open to them. The law needs to catch up with the reality of family life in Britain in 2018.

People are already suffering because of the Government’s delays. Joanna and Steve from Yorkshire are an opposite-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. For the sake of Joanna and Steve, and thousands of other couples across the country, we hope that the Government will act with urgency.

Today we’ve won in court, 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. The law is on our side. Now the Government must join us in doing the right thing: open civil partnerships to all.

We have therefore delivered a letter to the Equalities Minister, Penny Mordaunt MP, urging her to seize victory from the jaws of defeat by announcing today that the Government will legislate within this Parliamentary session to extend civil partnerships to all.”

Martin Loat, chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, said:

“Our campaign group came together to support Rebecca and Charles four years ago, but has grown into a force that provides a voice on this important issue for thousands of supporters nationwide. We welcome today’s ruling and will be keeping up the pressure for a fast change to equalise the law. The Government has had long enough, the time to act is now.”

The judgment has been welcomed by the couple’s solicitor, Louise Whitfield, of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Tim Loughton MP, who is bringing a private members bill to extend civil partnerships to all and is one vehicle that the Government could use to meet the Court’s demand.

June 24, 2018

Supreme Court to rule on opening Civil Partnerships to all – Wednesday 27th June

The Judgment will be read by three Supreme Court justices at 9.45am on Wednesday 27th June in Courtroom one.

Around 10am, Charles and Rebecca will deliver their response to the media and supporters outside the Court, together with their solicitor, Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Tim Loughton MP, who is bringing a private members bill to end the current inequality.

They will then march to the office of Penny Mordaunt MP, the Equalities Minister, at the Department for International Development on 22 Whitehall, to deliver a letter calling on the Government to act as a matter of urgency.

Commenting ahead of the judgment, Charles and Rebecca say:

“We believe our legal team has made an overwhelming argument but whatever the outcome on all the substantive issues the Government has already conceded that the current inequality cannot continue.”

Martin Loat, Chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships Group, is clear that there is only one realistic solution. He comments:

“The Secretary of State has publicly reassured Stonewall that she will not abolish civil partnerships for same sex couples. As a result, there is only one possible way forward – giving everyone the right to a civil partnership – and we urge the Government to seize this opportunity to announce it will end this injustice now.”

 

June 21, 2018

Supreme Court Judgment to be handed down Wednesday 27 June

The judgement will be handed down at 9.45 am on Wednesday 27 June in Courtroom 1 at the Supreme Court. It will be livestreamed from the Supreme Court website and an announcement will be made as soon as the result is known.

May 24, 2018

The Statements read out in front of the Supreme Court in full

The full statements made outside the Supreme Court on Monday 14 May 2018

Standing in front of the Supreme Court on Monday 14 May, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan made statements asking the Government to “do the right thing now.” Solicitor, Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Tim Loughton, MP, who is bringing a Private Members’ Bill through parliament which includes a provision for equal civil partnerships, both also made statements.

 Rebecca Steinfeld

Four years, four Equalities Ministers, three house moves and two children later – we’re still standing (just about!). But sadly we’re also still waiting to have a civil partnership. So too are literally hundreds of thousands of other couples up and down this country. And that’s why we’re here today at the UK’s Supreme Court.

Outside the Court of Appeal last year, we promised that we would keep on going for the 3.3 million couples who want legal recognition and financial protection but cannot have it because they’re not married and because the choice of a civil partnership is not open to them.

Their reasons for not wanting to marry vary from bad personal experiences to conscience to cost but that doesn’t matter.

Their children – like our children – deserve the same rights as the children of married and same-sex civilly partnered couples. Our families are the fastest growing family type in the UK. And the law needs to catch up with this reality of family life in Britain in 2018.

While the government has changed its ministers, its arguments and its counsel, we have just kept going. All the people around us today show just how far we’ve come. Allowing different-sex couples to have civil partnerships would be fair, popular and positive for families.

Our message to the Government is simple: stop delaying and stop trying to kick this issue into the long-grass. We’ve taken responsibility and so should you. We call on the government to do the right thing now – allow all couples the choice of a civil partnership.

Statement from Charles Keidan

 We wouldn’t be in a position to be here today without the encouragement and support we’ve received.

Gathered here are a small number of the 127,000 of you who have signed our Change.org petition. We are so happy to be standing side-by- side. Thank you to those of you who’ve donated to our legal costs and the wider campaign on CrowdJustice and GoFundMe.

We’d like to thank those of you who have shared with us your personal stories. One story stands out for us. It is upsetting and highlights the urgency of the Government acting now, and not delaying a decision until 2023 which now seems on the cards.

Steve and Joanna are a long-term cohabiting couple who want a civil partnership. Steve has terminal cancer so time is running out. We’re doing everything we can to ensure they can celebrate their commitment to each other in a way that is right for them – before it’s too late. We hope that Joanna and Steve will be one of the first different sex couples to form a civil partnership – if and when the law changes.

The government has chopped and changed its ministers and its arguments, but the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign has just grown and grown. Special thanks go to the campaign steering group who have stuck together and been with us all the way through the highs and the blows.

And that’s equally true of our brilliant legal team including Louise Whitfield from Deighton Pierce Glynn, and Karon Monaghan and Sarah Hannett from Matrix Chambers.

We’ll see the Government in court.

  

Statement from Louise Whitfield, Solicitor, Deighton Pierce Glynn

 This case is about equality and the Government treating people fairly. The Government should not be allowed to spend 5-10 years working at how to end discrimination once they have deliberately established a situation which discriminates. My clients hope that the court will agree with us today and help not only those who want civil partnerships but many many others facing discrimination.

Statement from Tim Loughton, MP

We now know that Justine Greening, the former Equalities Minister, commissioned a report last year that showed why the law should be changed and how it could be changed. The Government now needs to get on with making this change.

It should not take Charles and Rebecca to have to come to the Supreme Court to force a change in the law. The Government needs to do the right thing and recognise equality of all. By supporting my Bill the Government can deliver this change without months and months of delay.

 

May 18, 2018

“Stop the excuses and give choice to all” said Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan before the Supreme Court hearing

Speaking before the Supreme Court hearing on Monday, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan,  called on the Government to “stop making excuses and open up civil partnerships to everyone now.”

Speaking outside the Supreme Court before their case begins – surrounded by supporters from across the country – Rebecca and Charles said:

“Throughout our campaign we have met hundreds of couples like us who love each other and want a civil partnership so they can celebrate their commitment and strengthen the security of their family unit.   Their reasons for not wanting to marry vary from bad personal experiences to expense to conscience – but that doesn’t matter.  All they want is the choice of marriage or a civil partnership to suit them, which is currently available only to same-sex couples.  We have a new Equalities Minister and she should take this opportunity to look afresh at the Government’s position.   It’s time for the Government to stop making excuses which play with people’s lives, and give choice to all now.”

A Spokesperson for Stonewall, the leading LGBT campaigning organisation, Paul Twocock, said:

“Of the two ways the Government can end the current inequality between same-sex and different-sex couples, the only option we believe is open to Government is to extend civil partnerships to all.  The alternative – abolishing civil partnerships – would be unacceptable to those same-sex couples who still choose a civil partnership rather than marriage, as well as to the thousands who formed a civil partnership before same-sex marriage was an option and do not want to convert it into a marriage.”

Tim Loughton, Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, who is piloting a Private Members Bill through Parliament to address the issue, added:

“I applaud the perseverance of Charles and Rebecca in taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeal made it quite clear that the Government should address the clear inequality within the law and bring forward appropriate legislation to make the necessary change. My Bill gives the Government that opportunity and I urge the new Equalities Minister not to waste taxpayers money on expensive court cases and instead to use my bill to extend civil partnerships to all”.

Louise Whitfield, Solicitor at Deighton Pierce Glynn Ltd and acting on behalf of Charles and Rebecca, explained:

“This is a case of blatant inequality and while the Government has consistently asked for time to address it, the bottom line is that it is now five years since it was introduced.  It brings the law into disrepute if such self-evident discrimination is allowed to continue whatever the circumstances.”

The Equalities office had published a command paper at the end of the previous week, setting out its research into the future of civil partnerships and confirming that “At the earliest, we would anticipate being able to consult on the future operation of civil partnerships in 2020,” almost certainly ruling out legislation in this Parliament, despite the Court of appeal ruling.

The hearing lasted one day instead of the tabled day and a half with judgment expected in a couple of months.

May 13, 2018

Government faces Supreme Court showdown over opposite-sex couples’ right to Civil Partnerships

On Monday 14th May 2018, the Supreme Court will hear the case of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan.  The outcome of the case could affect 3.3 million unmarried couples in England and Wales.

Charles and Rebecca will be available for photographs and will make a short statement in front of the Supreme Court (in Parliament Square, London SW1P 3BD) at 9.45am on Monday 14th May, before their case begins.

They are expected to make a direct appeal to the Equalities Minister to support the extension of civil partnerships to all, following the High Court ruling last year that the current inequality was unsustainable.

They will be joined outside the Court by supporters of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, including Tim Loughton, Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, who is piloting a private members bill through Parliament which could be used to end the inequality (Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths [Registration etc] Bill 2017-2019), and LGBT campaigners concerned that the Government says it is actively considering abolishing civil partnerships altogether in a regressive attempt to achieve equality.

Since 2013, same sex couples have been able to choose between marriage or civil partnership, but the Government has resisted calls to extend this right to opposite sex couples.

Rebecca and Charles have been pursuing a change in the law through the Courts since 2014.  In February 2017, the Court of Appeal ruled that the current position could not continue indefinitely, but, by a 2:1 split decision, gave the Government limited time to decide on the future status of civil partnerships.  In August 2017, the couple was granted the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Tim Loughton’s private members bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons this February.  But over a year since the Government first argued to the Courts they needed time to research demand, they have done nothing.

April 16, 2018

CrowdJustice Appeal set up

Donate to the CrowdJustice site here

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/equalcivilpartnerships/