May 24, 2018
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.
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
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
Donate to the CrowdJustice site here
April 16, 2018
We have launched a funding appeal on CrowdJustice to raise the final tranche of legal fees, ahead of the Supreme Court hearing in May.
Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld return to court on the 14th/15th May 2018 in the next stage of their fight to legalise their relationship through a civil partnership rather than through marriage. Having already gone through the High Court and Appeal Court, their case has already established legal precedent and is of real interest and relevance for specialists in both family and human rights law.
There are well over 3 million unmarried cohabiting couples in the UK. Whilst the reasons for cohabiting vary, all suffer from the same lack of legal status and financial protections. If the law can be modernised, a very large number of people potentially stand to benefit.
Currently, cohabitees have virtually no legal protection. The opportunity that they could enjoy, should the case be successful, to formalise their relationship with a civil partnership will automatically provide the same protections that marriage does. Family law specialists will be keen to see people being removed from a problematic area legally.
The case has also already proved of special interest in the field of human rights law. The Appeal court accepted that matters pertaining to cohabitees’ rights like this do fall within the ambit of Article 8 of the ECHR, setting a precedent that has already been used in subsequent appeal cases and which has helped other cohabitees to extend the limited rights they do have.
The funding will be specifically to cover the costs of providing the ‘bundles’ for the Supreme Court which need to be both detailed and of the highest quality. With five Supreme Court judges and three QCs involved, eight very detailed bundles need to be produced.
The CrowdJustice site can be found on www.crowdjustice/case/equalcivilpartnerships/
February 19, 2018
Some of the 3.3 million unmarried, opposite sex couples who stand to benefit should Tim Loughton MP’s Civil Partnerships, Marriages & Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill become law met in the Palace of Westminster on Monday 29th January to show their support for the campaign, ahead of its second reading on Friday 2nd February.
The couples joined Tim Loughton MP, Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld (whose court case to enable them to enjoy a civil partnership is due back at the Supreme Court in May) to hear about the progress of the Bill and to share their own stories. Other key supporters of the campaign group present included journalist and education campaigner Fiona Millar and Human Rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell.
Coming from all walks of life and with a range of ages, the supporting couples provided a cross-section of the concerns and problems facing unmarried cohabiting couples, from a young partnership buying a first home to retirees with inheritance tax and pensions on their mind.
February 6, 2018
The Campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships has welcomed the progress on February 2nd of Tim Loughton’s Civil Partnerships, Marriages & Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill.
If carried, the Bill will oblige the Government to draw up a report to consider how best to end the current inequality whereby same-sex couples can choose between marriage and civil partnership, while opposite-sex couples only have access to the former.
The Bill was granted its second reading unanimously, which means that its objectives are supported ‘in principle’, and it will now be subjected to detailed scrutiny. The Campaign, however, has expressed concern that the Home Office Minister replying to the debate, Victoria Atkins MP explicitly kept open the option of addressing the current inequality by abolishing civil partnerships altogether, thus limiting the choice for same-sex couples and leaving those who have previously had civil partnerships in an uncertain legal limbo.
The Minister argued that the Government needs to assess the level of demand for same-sex civil partnerships following the introduction in 2014 of same-sex marriage. Mr Loughton, however, pointed out that in the past year the number of same-sex couples opting for a civil partnership rather than a marriage had actually increased.
Mr Loughton congratulated the Campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships and pointed out that 80,000 people have signed a petition calling for civil partnerships for all.* All but one of the MPs contributing to the debate also supported the extension of civil partnerships, arguing it would be fair, popular and would promote stable families.
Commenting, Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld, who are challenging the Government in the Supreme Court later this year over the current inequality, say:
“We are overwhelmed by the level of support for our campaign to provide access to legal and financial protection to the 3.3 million unmarried cohabiting couples in the UK who stand to benefit.”
“We call on the Government to rule out now the option of the abolition of same-sex civil partnerships now and to use the latter stages of the bill to legislate to extend civil partnerships to all.”
“Until the Government does, we will continue to fight for equality and civil partnerships for all in Parliament and through the courts.”
The Campaign welcomed a statement by Human Rights Campaigner, Peter Tatchell, that:
“Any attempt by the Government to abolish civil partnerships in the name of equality will be greeted with dismay by the LGBT community and provoke an almighty backlash. It will do catastrophic damage to relations between the Conservative party and LGBT people.”
The Bill will now be debated by Parliament over the next few months, although the Government has so far only committed to producing its report by Autumn 2019.
*In four days, since the second reading of the Bill, a further 30,000 supporters have signed the petition bringing the total to around 110,000.
February 1, 2018
The Campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships says: The current situation that allows some couples to choose between marriage and civil partnership while others can’t is manifestly unfair, unpopular and makes families less secure.
We are pleased that the Government, Opposition, Lib Dem and Green parties have all signalled that they will support Tim Loughton MP’s Civil Partnerships, Marriages & Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill tomorrow (Friday 2nd February) at second reading.
We welcome the commitment in the bill “to bring about equality between same-sex couples and other couples in terms of their future ability or otherwise to form civil partnerships.”
We note with concern, however, that equality can be achieved in one of two ways: by extending civil partnerships to all or abolishing civil partnerships for same-sex couples. With the number of same-sex civil partnerships increasing by 3.4% in the past year, many in the LGBT community would quite rightly be outraged by the latter option.
Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld, who are challenging the Government in the Supreme Court, later this year, over the current inequality, say: “We have been overwhelmed by the level of support for our campaign to provide access to legal and financial protection to the 3.3 million unmarried cohabiting couples in the UK who stand to benefit.”
“We call on the Government to rule out now the option of the abolition of same-sex civil partnerships and to use Tim Loughton’s bill to legislate as matter of urgency to extend civil partnerships to all.”
“Until the Government does, we will continue to fight for equality and civil partnerships for all in Parliament and through the courts.”
The Campaign welcomes the statement by leading Human Rights Campaigner, Peter Tatchell, that:“Any attempt by the Government to abolish civil partnerships in the name of equality will be greeted with dismay by the LGBT community and provoke an almighty backlash. It will do catastrophic damage to relations between the Conservative party and LGBT people.”
December 5, 2017
The Austrian Constutional Court has just given an early Christmas present to equal rights groups in the country with two ground-breaking rulings:
- Marriage to be recognised and allowed as a fundamental human right for same sex couples
- Registered Partnership to be allowed and legally recognised for different sex couples.
Both will be available from 1st January 2019.
Congratulations to everyone involved!
November 17, 2017
The Times has published a Five Point Plan that they are campaigning for ‘to bolster family stability, end financial injustice and remove acrimony from divorce’.
The article focuses on the reforms needed, particularly in the area of divorce law, to creat a fairer system but takes in a range of issues to do with family law, finishing with the five point plan.
Point four is “Extending civil partnerships to heterosexuals so that they can have the same security as married couples should they wish. Civil partnerships are offered only to same-sex couples at present”.
TIMES CAMPAIGN | FAMILY MATTERS
Family Matters: Overhaul divorce to protect children, say MPs and peers
Friday 17th November