May 4, 2020
These are strange and worrying times and the first message I have for you all is the fervent wish that all in our civil partnerships community together with your loved ones stay safe. We know from our social media feeds how supportive the community is and we are grateful for it at times like this.
As an organisation we have had a lot to do with register offices and the General Register Office over the last few months! Again, we have nothing but sympathy and respect for registrars trying to keep staff safe as well as dealing with the tragedy of increased death registrations.
Many of you have had the disappointment of having your civil partnership notice or registration cancelled. We are aware that this isn’t merely a happy occasion you’ve had to forego for the time being. You have had to also postpone the opportunity to form a registered relationship and the knowledge that financially and legally you and your family are protected should the worst happen.
We asked for stories of why this affects you and we have been inundated. We know that many of you are key-workers, including in healthcare and want to ensure your partner and children have financial peace of mind as you are risking your health to care for others. We know that many of you are older or have compromised immune systems making you worry that you are in the at-risk groups.
This is why we are campaigning for the introduction of digital registrations (via video call platforms) during the period of lockdown. New York State has managed to achieve this and our fervent hope is that we can do the same here. We have set up a petition on change.org – Please do sign and share it.
Thank you and best wishes to you all from myself and the rest of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign team at this difficult time.
Chairman, Equal Civil Partnerships
March 20, 2020
As we approach 100 days of mixed-sex civil partnerships, we want to understand how register offices are coping with the new legal relationship. Now is the chance to have your say.
Take a couple of minutes to fill in our online form – let us know how your register office has done in terms of ease of booking, availability and staff awareness.
We aim to be able to publish a top – and bottom – five register offices by the time we celebrate 100 days so please help us.
Be assured that we will never publish personal details or information which could identify you unless you have given us permission.
March 16, 2020
Thanks to donations from our supporters. Please do continue to help.
As we pass 75 days of mixed-sex civil partnerships and look forward to reaching 100 days, we are reflecting on all we have done and all we still want to do with the material and emotional help of our supporters.
Mixed-sex civil partnerships were introduced on 31st December 2019. Since then the ECP campaign has continued our work albeit with only one part-time member of staff.
Since 31st December we have
- Continued to raise the profile and awareness of mixed-sex civil partnerships in mainstream media e.g. Valentine’s Day special on Victoria Derbyshire show
- Fought for the rights of mixed-sex couples to have the simple registration and respect accorded them for their choice e.g. contacting register offices directly on your behalf
- Helped with the bill to bring mixed-sex civil partnerships to Scotland e.g. Martin Loat, Chairman of ECP, has given evidence in person to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee
- Continued to build a strong supportive mixed-sex civil partnership community, celebrating each others’ registrations, answering questions and providing help in finding witnesses among many other benefits.
As we approach the 100 days anniversary, we are planning to find out more about your experiences, create a top five list of most helpful register offices – and a bottom 5! – and use the occasion to both make sure people know what their rights and options are and to put pressure on register offices to offer more availability for the simple registration.
To do this we need your support. We no longer have other funding than that donated by our supporters – anything you can donate will help us to continue for longer.
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.
December 9, 2019
After giving notice at Hammersmith and Fulham Register Office Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld gave statements.
It’s five years to the day since Becca and I launched our legal effort to
become civil partners.
A civil partnership is the perfect expression of our values and relationship –
of love for one another and an aspiration to be a partnership of equals. Of
course, we don’t always live up to that aspiration but it sets a tone for our
relationship and our responsibility as parents.
For us, a civil partnership is a blank slate upon which we can inscribe our
own hopes and dreams. There is no social script, no fixed expectations
imposed by others, no huge expense and minimal fanfare.
I’m also happy to be avoiding demands and expectations from others – be
they family, friends and society – about wearing certain clothes, exchanging
vows and rings, throwing an expensive party or signing a certificate or
being part of an institution which still excludes mother’s names.
Now that we’ve successfully given notice of our own civil partnership here
in Hammersmith and Fulham Register Office, we’ll be having a simple
registration 29 days later in the company of our children and two close
friends who will act as witnesses. We will be going back to Chelsea Register
Office on new years eve, the place where it all began when we tried to form
a civil partnership all those years ago. It has been a long – and at times
arduous – journey but now the law has changed. We will enter the new
decade as civil partners.
I’m really happy and proud to have played a role in giving birth to a new
type of legal relationship and social structure – one which I hope will
increase people’s happiness, well-being, choice and security.
I’m so happy and relieved that we’ve finally been able to give
notice of our intention to form a civil partnership. Five years
ago, when we tried at Chelsea Register Office, we were
turned away because of the ban on mixed-sex civil
partnerships. Since then, we’ve won our legal challenge
against that ban in the Supreme Court, and, together with
the Campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships, changed the law so
that now all couples can form civil partnerships. Our positive
experience here at Hammersmith and Fulham Register Office
today marks the beginning of the end of that long journey.
Now, I’m looking forward to finally becoming civil partners in
law, as well as in life, with my partner Charlie Keidan.
Descriptors are hugely important. It matters that same-sex
couples can marry – something we campaigned for within
our community. But it also matters that feminists like me, in
mixed-sex relationships, can, through civil partnerships,
formalise a relationship of equals, and avoid labels like
“wife,” together with all the gendered expectations that
come with them. Being civil partners reminds us of the need
for mutual respect. And it gives me, especially, leverage
whenever there’s a creeping inequality in our division of
household labour and childcare responsibilities.
So my message to those, like me, who want legal status and
financial protections for their relationship, but within a
modern social institution without the patriarchal baggage of
marriage is: Get hitched like a feminist – form a civil partnership.
December 9, 2019
At just after midnight on Monday 2nd December, a new form of legal relationship came into being in England and Wales. For the first time, mixed-sex couples can choose to register their relationship as a civil partnership as an alternative to marriage, an option that was previously only open to same-sex couples.
The first civil partnership registrations can take place from 31st December 2019 and register offices throughout the country have been kept busy as couples rushed to give notice. One of the couples doing so was Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan whose fight for the right to have a civil partnership, a fight supported throughout by the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, led them to a win at the Supreme Court. They were joined by hundreds of couples today during the rest of the week, keen to give notice and be among the first to register their partnership.
After giving notice at Hammersmith and Fulham Register Office at 10.30 am on Monday 2nd December, Rebecca Steinfeld said, “I’m so happy and relieved that we’ve finally been able to give notice of our intention to form a civil partnership. It matters that feminists like me, in mixed-sex relationships, can through civil partnerships, formalise a relationship of equals.”
Charles Keidan added, “I’m really happy and proud to have played a role in giving birth to a new type of legal relationship and social structure – one which I hope will increase people’s happiness, well-being, choice and security. A civil partnership is the perfect expression of our values and relationship.”
Many other couples will have gone to bed on Sunday 1st December cohabiting and woken up to find themselves civil partners. Civil partnership equivalents entered into outside the United Kingdom automatically became a legal relationship at 00.01am on Monday 2nd December. Martin Loat, chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, who is, in fact in this position having registered his partnership with Claire Beale in the Isle of Man three years ago, said, “This is a truly momentous day. We are the very beginning of a totally new social institute and it’s exciting to be one of the first to enjoy this. We know from our supporters that this is a day that has been longed for and we look forward to seeing what will happen from now on with it.”
November 6, 2019
If you are looking for something special to commemorate a civil partnership, these specially designed bar brooches, endorsed by the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, might be the perfect item. The high quality hand-crafted brooches in sterling silver and copper can be bought from Dunn Jewellery via Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/736008340/equal-civil-partnerships-campaign-bar
The ECP campaign has worked with custom jeweller, Paul Dunn of Dunn Jewellery, to create a simple design specific to civil partnerships which we hope people will enjoy. The brooches are a perfect additional touch for the registration itself but can equally be worn every-day. Although designed to be engraved Civil Partner – working for both mixed and same-sex partnerships and gender neutral, the engraving can be personalised or left off.
To see and purchase the design go to https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/736008340/equal-civil-partnerships-campaign-bar
ECP campaign’s role has been purely advisory and the campaign has no financial affiliation with Dunn Jewellery nor does it receive any benefit or profit from the sale of the brooches. The campaign is also currently working with an enamel badge maker to provide an additional or alternative low-cost commemorative symbol.