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
November 14, 2017
We’ve updated the Change.org petition to Minister for Women and Equalities, Justine Greening, with all the latest campaign news – an update on the latest addition to Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan’s family and where we’re at with the Private Members Bill and the Supreme Court Challenge. We’ve nearly 80,000 signatories now so please keep signing and sharing. Click Get Involved to see other ways of supporting the campaign.
September 26, 2017
Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign responds to first rise in Civil Partnerships since equal marriage introduced
Campaign Manager Clare Lorraine Phipps said:”This news does not come as a surprise to those who have been campaigning for the extension of Civil Partnerships to mixed sex couples. Nearly 80,000 people have signed our petition, and we have continued to see a persistent number of same sex couples who have still opted for Civil Partnerships over marriage, even since the welcome introduction of marriage equality in 2014.
“The Government doesn’t need to “wait and see” if there is sufficient demand to maintain Civil Partnerships as an institution – these figures speak for themselves. We are calling on Justine Greening and the Government to demonstrate their continued support for Civil Partnerships by extending them to all couples, regardless of their sexuality. Civil Partnerships offer a legally binding arrangement that is fair, popular and good for families and children.”
September 7, 2017
Members of the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign team have met with Tim Loughton, MP to discuss plans ahead of the Second Reading of his “Equal Civil Partnerships” Bill.
In July, the MP for East Worthing and Shoreton was selected as the 5th person to have a Private Members Bill heard – and he chose equalising civil partnership inequality as his Bill’s topic. The Bill has now been presented to Parliament in its “First Reading” as the “Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill 2017-19”. Its “second reading” has been scheduled for February 2nd.
Private Members Bills are one of the ways MPs can introduce laws. They are heard in order one after the other throughout the course of the Parliamentary Year. Many do not get to be heard for their crucial second reading, where other MPs have a chance to vote as to whether the Bill should progress onto the next stage, before the Parliamentary year ends, and the process starts again. Most Bills that have successfully been passed into law have been on of the first 20 selected.
With a Bill so high in the prioritisation ballot, we have a really great chance for Equal Civil Partnerships to become a reality – so we naturally were keen to meet with Tim to discuss ahead of February’s vote.
Tim said: “We need to correct the current inequality within the law that prevents heterosexual couples from entering into civil partnerships. It is a very simple Bill that alters one word in the law but it will make a big difference to many people’s lives.”
One of the main tasks for his team in the coming months will be finalising the wording of the Bill so that it is in the best possible shape when it comes to February’s vote, allowing MPs to feel comfortable voting for it to proceed.
Many thanks to our supporters who are patiently waiting for developments – we will be in touch soon to let you know how you can give the Bill the best chance of success in passing to the next stage in becoming law. Make sure you receive our updates and also show your support by signing the petition here .
August 22, 2017
Another “significant step in the journey to achieve equal civil partnerships for all” has been made, as the couple the heart of the effort to open civil partnerships to different-sex couples are granted permission to take their legal fight to the UK Supreme Court.
Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who sought to register a civil partnership but were denied because they are ‘not of the same sex,’ took the government to court in 2014 over the ongoing ban on different-sex civil partnerships.
Steinfeld and Keidan, who are shortly expecting their second child, wish to form a civil partnership because it “captures the essence of our relationship and values”. They see civil partnerships are a simple, modern contract conferring almost identical rights and responsibilities as marriage, but without its social pressures.
A ruling in February 2017 from the Court of Appeal stated that the current ban could not continue indefinitely but, in a 2:1 split ruling, gave the government limited time to decide on the future status of civil partnerships.
The couple said they “welcomed” the Supreme Court’s decision to grant permission to hear their case and hope that with even more time having elapsed with no government action, the court will find in their favour and force the government to act.
Rebecca Steinfeld said:
“Nearly a year after saying in court that they needed more time, the government still has not publicly changed its position on the issue. Having received a very encouraging ruling from the Court of Appeal in February we are confident that our case is sound. We hope the Supreme Court will deliver a judgment that will finally provide access to civil partnerships for thousands of families across the country.”
Charles Keidan said:
“The incredible support from many thousands of people who have signed our petition and backing from MPs across the political spectrum has enabled us to come this far. What started out as a personal effort to become civil partners has taken on wider significance as we realised that as many as 3.3 million co-habiting couples are affected by the status quo. Over the last few years, we’ve heard the same message: whilst most couples want financial and legal protection for themselves and their families, not all feel comfortable with marriage. Civil partnerships offer a legally binding arrangement that is fair, popular and good for families and children.”
The couple’s solicitor, Louise Whitfield, from leading public law firm Deighton Pierce Glynn, said:
“This is a very significant achievement for my clients as the Supreme Court only gives permission for a very small number of cases each year – those that are the most important for the Court to consider. It is another significant step in the journey to achieve equal civil partnerships for all, and the Court’s decision to grant permission recognises the great public importance of this issue.”