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May 2, 2019

A symbol for a civil partnership?

We all know that civil partnerships for mixed-sex couples are due to come in by the end of this year.  A Government consultation is starting into how and when the change will be introduced. As a campaign group, we are involved with that and will keep all supporters up-to-date. But we are also thinking about how couples might wish to mark the occasion of a entering into a Civil Partnership.

One suggestion is to explore the idea of creating a shared and wearable item or motif that will come to symbolise the first wave of mixed-sex Civil Partnerships.  Married people can of course share wedding rings; maybe civil partners will want their own distinctive, yet equally permanent, alternative little icon?

An initial brainstorm yielded suggestions such as: pin badges, jewellery, pendants, bangles, bracelets or some radical design of ring …possibly in matching or complementary pairs to symbolise partnership. Probably made of resilient, semi-precious metal. We’ve ruled out body-piercing!

The ECP campaign team could go so far as to take the lead in organising the design, manufacture and sale of such items (at a reasonable price!) if demand and interest from couples is apparent. Now is our chance to create something that thousands of people could wear for years to come.

So we’d love to get the thoughts and suggestions from you – our interested supporters -about this idea.

– Is it something you’d be interested in seeing come to fruition?
– Would you and your partner wear something special to commemorate your civil partnership?
– If so, what’s your suggestion for what it might be?

Do let us know.

Get in contact via email – hello@equalcivilpartnerships.org.uk facebook (@equalcivilpartnerships) or twitter (@equalCPS) to let us know what you think

April 30, 2019

Letter to Registrar General

Equal Civil Partnerships Chair, Martin Loat, has written to the Registrar General asking for clarity and guidance for supporters in registering mixed-sex civil partnerships.

“I am writing as the chair of the Campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships.

“You will be aware that the Civil Partnerships, Marriages & Deaths (Registration Etc.) Act has received Royal Assent. It requires that civil partnerships be made available to mixed-sex as well as same-sex couples no later than 31st December 2019.

“Ministers have confirmed that the first mixed-sex civil partnerships must take place before the end of this year.

“As you can imagine, with over 3 million unmarried mixed-sex couples in the UK, there is widespread public interest in this change and we understand from our thousands of supporters that many have been in touch with local Register Offices to book dates. However, they have received inconsistent answers to their enquiries. Some offices have
accepted bookings for early 2020, while others who have refused even to consider applications for the moment and others have equivocated.

” I am therefore writing to you to ask:
• What guidance you have, or intend, to issue on this matter to ensure a consistent approach across England and Wales?
• How will you ensure that the Government’s commitment to enable the first mixed-sex civil partnerships to take place by the end of 2019 is met?
• Will you instruct local Register offices to accept bookings now for 31st December 2019 onwards, in compliance with legislation?
• What provision, if any, will there be for “fast-tracking” or waiving notice periods in special cases?

“This is not just a technical matter. We are aware of at least one couple who have been together for thirty years, one of whom has terminal cancer. Understandably they are very anxious to be able to have a civil partnership to make their union legal as soon as possible. Time is of the essence in cases such as this.

“We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your guidance and to ensure clarity to the many thousands who have a direct interest in this.”

March 27, 2019

Royal Assent Received

On Tuesday 26 March 2019 the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill received Royal Assent. It is now an Act of Parliament i.e. Law.

March 15, 2019

Thousands of couples may have mixed-sex civil partnerships by end of this year #ADateToCelebrate

Whilst other partnerships have been under intense debate in Parliament over the last few days, mixed-sex civil partnerships end the week on a triumphal high. The Private Members Bill, brought by Tim Loughton MP, received final Parliamentary approval in the House of Commons today. It will now become law – permitting the first mixed-sex civil partnerships in England and Wales by the end of the year.

Martin Loat, Chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, commented, “We have battled long and hard to achieve this victory. We congratulate Tim Loughton MP for his determined and skilled championing of this Private Members Bill through Parliament. The Government now plans a consultation to assess just how equal civil partnerships for all are going to work. The Equal Civil Partnership campaign will play a full part in this and will continue to speak up for our supporters.”

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan have played a vital part in the campaign, taking the Government through the courts with a final win in the Supreme Court in June 2018 which helped to secure the safe passage of the Bill through parliament. They commented, “We are relieved that the Government finally listened to the Supreme Court and to the thousands of other couples like us who want the option of forming a civil partnership. We’re delighted that with the passing of today’s Bill, now, finally, we can start to plan our own celebrations. Against the headwinds of Brexit, it is a real tribute to what civic action, political commitment and most of all hard graft over many years can bring about. We thank everyone involved in this team effort.”

The Bill was taken through parliament as a Private Members Bill by Tim Loughton MP in the Commons and Baroness Fiona Hodgson in the Lords. Tim Loughton MP commented, “This has been a long and hard-fought journey, but will be well worth it for the recognition and stability it will provide many thousands of mixed-sex couples. I am grateful to the work done by the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign and all others who have supported us in securing this vitally important piece of legislation.”

His colleague in the House of Lords, Baroness Hodgson added, “It was a privilege to steer this Bill through the Lords. I have had a huge mailbag from people who are desperate to have a civil partnership and I hope it changes many people’s lives for the better.”

With 3.3 million unmarried couples living together in the UK and over 145,000 signatories on a Change.org petition calling for mixed-sex civil partnerships, the ruling is being welcomed on social media with couples delighting in #ADateToCelebrate. Couples like Joanna and Steve from Hebden Bridge who urgently need this new civil partnership law as Steve has terminal prostate cancer and the couple want legal security – without marriage – after thirty years together.

March 14, 2019

#ADateToCelebrate

After a progression through the UK courts – culminating in a unanimous win at the Supreme Court in June 2018, and a two year passage through Parliament, mixed-sex civil partnerships  will finally pass into law on Friday 15th March.

The Civil Partnerships, Marriage and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill brought by Tim Loughton MP will have its final reading at 9.30 on Friday 15th March. It is expected to pass unopposed and with no amendments with Government and cross-party support.

The ECP campaign group are asking supporters to come down to Westminster and gather outside the Supreme Court before 10.45 am to welcome the Tim Loughton MP and key campaigners as they come out of the Houses of Parliament.

Tim Loughton, ECP Campaign Chair, Martin Loat and campaigners Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan will make statements to the supporters and press at 11 am.

The ECP campaign group are also asking supporters to share their celebrations with photos/plans for their own civil partnerships on social media using the hashtag #ADateToCelebrate

March 11, 2019

Bill passes final reading in The Lords

On Friday 8 March Baroness Fiona Hodgson asked that the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill be read for a third time in The Lords. It passed with no further changes and will now proceed back to the House of Commons there for a final reading on Friday 15 March 2019.

March 4, 2019

Bill Passes Report Stage With No Amendments

On Friday March 1st 2019 the Equal Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill passed its Report stage in the House of Lords.

Whilst three amendments had been tabled for the Bill and all three discussed during the Report stage, all three were ultimately withdrawn, allowing the Bill to pass unopposed or amended through to its next and final stage in the Lords, the Third reading.

The Bill will then need to return for a final reading in the House of Commons.

February 28, 2019

Letter from our Chair, Martin Loat, to Lord Hayward

Martin Loat, Chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign group, has sent a personal letter to Lord Hayward expressing our concerns about the amendment and asking for its withdrawal.

“We have today noted your introduction of an amendment to the Civil Partnerships,
Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill, being taken through parliament by Tim
Loughton MP and Baroness Fiona Hodgson.

As you know, the ECP campaign group support what you are trying to achieve with same-sex
marriage in Northern Ireland. We believe in equal rights for all and wish you every success
with your aim of changing the law throughout the United Kingdom.

However, we do not believe that this particular Bill is the right vehicle for achieving this.
We believe, sadly, that, should your amendment be included in the revised Bill and pass
through the Lords, it will fail on its return to the Commons. The DUP will not allow the Bill
to pass in this amended form and the Conservative MPs will, therefore, also vote against it.

After having come so close to success, it would be awful if this Bill – which affects so many
lives in real and beneficial ways – were to fall at the final hurdle. Apart from the issue of
equal civil partnerships, the aspects of the Bill which provide for mothers’ names on
marriage certificates and which deal with pregnancy loss and still-birth will make a tangible
difference at these most joyous or the most difficult times of life.

So I’m writing to you – on behalf of our 145,000 declared supporters and literally millions of
other co-habiting couples – to ask you to withdraw your amendment and not jeopardise
mixed-sex couples getting the security and protection of the relationship of their choice.

Such couples include Joanna Christina and Steve Anderson from West Yorkshire who object
to marriage on principle. Steve has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate
cancer and the couple are desperate to formalise their 30-year relationship before time
runs out. Should this bill fail, their chance of achieving this will evaporate.

The campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships would like to see Mr Loughton’s bill passed and as
you are a seasoned campaigner for equal human rights, we know you do too. Please help us
to achieve this.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Loat”

February 26, 2019

New Amendment on Bill – Please help us to ensure Bill is not derailed

Lord Hayward, a committed and principled champion of equal rights, has introduced an amendment to the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill, due to reach its next stage in the Lords on Friday 1 March.  The amendment calls for same-sex marriage to be introduced in Northern Ireland  – a policy which the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign group wholeheartedly endorse as we suspect the vast majority of our supporters also do.

We are huge believers in #equallove, champion equality in all forms and individually members of the group – including Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan – have been vociferous and active in the campaign for same-sex marriage. However,  we are concerned that this Bill is not the place for that particular fight.

While we completely support the intention, were Lord Hayward to succeed in adding this to the Bill, there is no doubt that Conservatives in the Commons would vote it down, as they desperately need the support of the DUP who oppose equal marriage.  So an equal marriage for Northern Ireland amendment would do nothing to further this cause but could well have the unintended consequence of blocking equal civil partnerships, which Lord Hayward supports.

What can you do?

Write to Lord Hayward today at the House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW or email robertahayward11@gmail.com and:

  • Urge him to withdraw his amendment before any vote
  • Express your support for equal marriage in Northern Ireland but ask him to find another means to press the issue

Also, please write to the following asking them to support the Bill without any further amendment:

  • Conservative Whips Office, House of Lords, London, Explain what a difference civil partnerships would make to you
  • SW1A 0PW (holgovernmentwhips@parliament.uk)
  • Labour Whips Office, House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW coffmanb@parliament.uk
  • Lib Dem Whips Office, House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW libdemlordswhips@parliament.uk

Do please also contact other peers that you have a connection with or that you know will be attending the debate and ask them to support the Bill with no further amendments.

We only have until Friday 1st March to persuade Lord Hayward not to press his amendment or to ensure he is unsuccessful if he does, so please write today.

The full text of the amendments can be found here

December 20, 2018

Scottish Consultation on Mixed-Sex Civil Partnerships

Whilst the Private Members Bill currently going through Parliament in Westminster will allow mixed-sex civil partnerships in England and Wales, the issue comes under family law and is, therefore, a devolved matter. The Scottish Government is conducting a consultation with public input due to end on Friday 21st December. To ensure compatibility with the Supreme Court ruling in June, the conclusion will be all civil partnership to be allowed or single-sex partnerships to be no longer allowed.

Please do complete and share the consultation on civil partnerships before the end of 21st December.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, on behalf of the #equalcivilpartnerships Campaign Group and all couples looking to enter into a civil partnership, have sent this letter today to The Scotsman Newspaper.

Dear Editor

Like millions of others across the UK, we are a couple who live together, own a house together and have children together but we are not married.

Were we to get married and one of us died or we separated, the law would provide the protection of tax-free inheritance, bereavement benefits or access to children.  But we don’t want to get married as a civil partnership would, for us, offer a appropriate alternative for our family.

So, with the support of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, the UK Supreme Court ruled unanimously in June that couples like us should have the same alternative of a civil partnership that is available to same sex couples. The judgment said it was unlawful and simply unfair to treat couples differently based on their sexual orientation. 

In October, the Prime Minister announced her intention to extend civil partnerships in England and Wales to all, and legislation is proceeding in Westminster.

Yet in Scotland, the Government is still consulting on how to change the law. Its consultation paper – which closes for comments today [Friday 21st December] – still offers the option of ending civil partnerships altogether, which would be desperately unfair to all those same-sex couples who have or want a civil partnership.  That’s not what we want. We want there to be more choice not less.  

So we strongly urge every Scottish couple in a similar position to ours to respond to the consultation today at https://consult.gov.scot/family-law/the-future-of-civil-partnership-in-scotland/ to tell the Government to extend the right to a civil partnership to all.

It’s time for the Scottish Government to act.

Yours sincerely

Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld