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.”
July 19, 2017
The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign has spoken of its “delight” at the news the MP Tim Loughton will be introducing a Bill to create mixed-sex civil partnerships .
Mr Loughton finished fifth in this year’s ballot of Private Members’ Bills which means the Bill he chooses to introduce stands a high chance of becoming law if the government backs it. His Bill will be unveiled in parliament today following Prime Minister’s Question Time.
Matt Hawkins, Campaign Manager for the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign said:
“We are delighted that Tim has chosen to use his Private Members Bill to create mixed-sex civil partnerships. His decision will not only be popular with the thousands who have signed our petition calling for such a law but with the MPs from across the House of Commons who have backed our campaign. We’re looking forward to working with Tim to steer this Bill through parliament and in doing so extend choice and full opportunities for legal and financial protection to mixed-sex couples.”
As the law stands same-sex couples can enter into a civil partnership or get married but mixed-sex couples can only marry. A campaign to change the law and give mixed-sex couples the right to a civil partnerships has been running since 2015 . Over 76,000 people have signed a petition calling for civil partnerships to be open to all  and MPs, MEPs, and Members of the London Assembly, including the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, have pledged their support for the cause .
June 21, 2017
The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign met yesterday (20th June) with the Deputy Mayor of London to discuss how the campaign for mixed-sex civil partnerships can be advanced in the capital.
At the meeting Charles Keidan, one member of the couple that has taken the government to court over the ban on mixed-sex civil partnerships and Campaign Manager Matt Hawkins talked with Caroline Russell AM and Matthew Ryder, Deputy Mayor.
Speaking after the meeting, Matt Hawkins said:
“Today was an extremely positive meeting. It’s clear that Matthew really gets the issue and that the Mayor too understands what we are trying to do. London has a history of being a progressive, vibrant, and open city and Matthew and Sadiq intuitively know that the movement towards mixed-sex civil partnerships is something London can lead and play a major part in. We’re looking forward to seeing the result of the meeting and the further advancement of our campaign’s cause. Special thanks go from us to Caroline Russell AM whose motion to the London Assembly in supporting of our campaign was passed unanimously and led to yesterday’s meeting.”
April 20, 2017
Three in five people in Britain believe that civil partnerships should be open to all couples, new polling has found.
A survey of 2000 people by Populus found that 57% think civil partnerships should be made available to both mixed-sex and same-sex couples while only 20% think they should be scrapped altogether.
The survey comes after the Court of Appeal ruled in February that the current legal situation which allows same-sex couples the right to a civil partnership or marriage while mixed-sex couples can only marry cannot continue indefinitely.
The campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships argue that the poll results show that pledging to extend civil partnerships would be a popular choice for parties contesting the June 8th general election.
Matt Hawkins, Campaign Manager for the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign, said:
“This survey adds to the mound of evidence demonstrating that giving every couple the option of getting a civil partnership would be the popular and fair thing to do. Over 76,000 people have already signed a petition calling on the government to extend civil partnerships, MPs from all parties support our cause, and countries such as France, Sweden, and New Zealand and regions of the British Isles like the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, and Isle of Man have already shown that mixed-sex civil partnerships are easy to introduce and warmly welcomed.
“The spread of mixed-sex civil partnerships across the world has happened in recognition of the fact that nearly all couples want some kind of financial and legal security and that marriage is just not for everyone. It’s an acknowledgment of choice and diversity. Our message to political parties about to fight it out in this June’s general election is that they have everything to win and nothing to lose by pledging to make civil partnerships are real option for mixed-sex couples in Britain.”
The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign is supported by MPs, MEPs, and Assembly Members from the Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Labour, Green, and Scottish Nationalist Parties and also by individuals such as Owen Jones, Peter Tatchell, and Caroline Criado-Perez and organisations including Liberty, the Women’s Budget Group, and TUC Women.
April 18, 2017
The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign has urged political parties to demonstrate their commitment to choice and diversity by pledging to extend civil partnerships to all couples at the upcoming general election.
Responding to the announcement by the Prime Minister Theresa May that there will be a snap election on June 8th, the Campaign Manager for the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign Matt Hawkins said:
“When it comes to the debate over mixed-sex civil partnerships, an awful lot has changed since the election in 2015. The Court of Appeal has ruled that the unequal access to civil partnerships cannot continue indefinitely. MPs from all parties have given their backing to our campaign. Over 760000 people have signed a petition calling for the opening up of civil partnerships to all couples. Britain has arrived at a major crossroads with negotiations over Brexit and a snap election both on the horizon. Political parties have the perfect opportunity now to demonstrate that they want Britain’s future to be one built on choice and diversity by using this election campaign to pledge their support for mixed-sex civil partnerships.”
April 13, 2017
Response from Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign to introduction of mixed-sex civil partnerships in the Falkland Islands
Responding to the news that the Falkland Islands have introduced both equal marriage and equal civil partnerships, Campaign Manager for the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign Matt Hawkins said:
“This is such positive news. The Falkland Islands have chosen choice and diversity over enforced conformity. They join a whole number of countries and regions – from the Netherlands to New Zealand, France to the Isle of Man – in recognising that every couple deserves the right to financial and legal protection and that every couple should have a choice over how they secure that protection. It’s wonderful news for the people of the Falkland Islands and great news for everyone who believes in equal marriage and equal civil partnerships.”
March 29, 2017
On Friday March 24th parliament was scheduled to debate Tim Loughton MP’s Private Members’ Bill to extend civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples.
Sadly, the Bill was scheduled too far down the agenda for parliamentary business and so there was no time to debate it. This is not uncommon with Private Members’ Bills: very few make it into law because they are scheduled for debate on Fridays, when many MPs are away from parliament, and there so many each year that the parliamentary timetable can’t secure debates for every one.
However, we are continuing to explore every avenue available to us to get the change we seek and we can only say a huge thank you to all our supporters who keep contacting their MPs and the government and so keep the pressure up.
March 23, 2017
At the London Mayor’s Question Time on 22nd March, Sadiq Khan reiterated his support for the equal civil partnerships campaign and agreed that his Deputy Mayor, Matthew Ryder,would meet representatives of the campaign to discuss how the cause can be taken further forwards in London.
Responding to a question put by Assembly Member Russell regarding how the Mayor intends to make good his commitment, made in November 2016, to take action in support of the campaign for equal civil partnerships should Charles and Rebecca fail in their appeal, Mr Khan said:
“I am supportive of the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign, passionate about this area…my Deputy Mayor for Social Integration will meet with Member Russell and campaigners to discuss how I might support the campaign going forwards.”
In the early 2000s the London Assembly pioneered unions for same-sex couples with the introduction of a precursor to civil partnerships in the capital. The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign is hopeful that something similar can now be done with mixed-sex civil partnerships.
You can see Mr Khan answering the question here (skip to 2 hours 39 minutes in): https://www.london.gov.uk/mayors-question-time-2017-03-22
March 7, 2017
Close to forty postcards will arrive at the office of the Minister for Equalities Justine Greening tomorrow urging her to use International Women’s Day to kickstart the process of introducing mixed-sex civil partnerships.
The postcards, sent by individual supporters of the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign, say that introducing mixed-sex civil partnerships would show real intent by the government to create gender parity.
The postcards say:
“The organisers of this year’s International Women’s Day ask everyone to “Be Bold for Change” and take concrete steps to gender parity. One simple change you could do to help thousands of women in the UK is: make civil partnerships available to all couples.
“Many women in mixed-sex relationships do not feel comfortable with marriage because, for them, it carries cultural and patriarchal baggage. Their right to legal and financial protection for their relationship and their family should not be denied. That right should not be denied just because the current law holds that only one union is valid for mixed-sex couples.”
Prominent supporter of the campaign journalist and activist Fiona Millar said:
“Marriage just isn’t for me but I would like to have a simple partnership arrangement that gives the same legal and financial protection that is now available to same sex couples who choose not to marry. Our children are grown up now but I feel it it is very important the law is changed to support younger women and families who maybe don’t realise that their rights are so limited and that the same choices are available to all, regardless of sexuality . It is shocking to me that the government equalities office is opposing a simple move that would bring more equality and security to so many people.”
Pressure on the government to introduce civil partnerships for mixed-sex couples increased last month when the Court of Appeal ruled that the current ban is in breach of the Human Rights Act. Although the court gave the government more time to decide the future of civil partnerships it made it clear that action must be taken soon.
In their ruling, Lord Justice Beatson said: “I do not consider that the discrimination in the status quo can be maintained for long”.
Lord Justice Briggs said. “‘I can well understand the frustration which must be felt by the Appellants and those couples who share their view about marriage, about what they regard as the Government’s slow progress on this issue. Some couples in their position may suffer serious fiscal disadvantage if, for example, one of them dies before they can form a civil partnership.”
There are over three million mixed-sex couples in England and Wales who are in cohabiting relationships. One in three of those couples have children. A petition calling for the introduction of mixed-sex civil partnerships has been signed by over 75000 people and the campaign for equal civil partnerships is now backed by MPs from nearly every major political party.
February 21, 2017
The Court of Appeal has today ruled that the current ban on mixed-sex civil partnerships cannot continue indefinitely.
In a split decision (2:1), London couple Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan narrowly lost their legal challenge to the government’s ongoing ban on mixed-sex civil partnerships.
Although all three judges agreed that the government’s policy of “wait and see” must end soon, two judges concluded that the government should be allowed slightly more time before coming to a decision on the future status of civil partnerships. The ruling states that the government now has only a short window to ‘wait and evaluate’ before deciding whether to extend civil partnerships to all. If they fail to reach a decision soon the government will be in breach of the Human Rights Act the court ruled.
Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice where the ruling was handed down, supporters of the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign called on the government to announce a simple amendment to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech so as to extend civil partnerships to all. They said there is clear demand for that to happen, it is simple to do, and it would be good for families and children.
The case was brought by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, a mixed-sex couple from London who want to form a civil partnership.
Ms Steinfeld said:
“We are pleased that today’s ruling has shown that the government must act very soon to end this unfair situation. All three judges agreed that we’re being treated differently because of our sexual orientation, and that this impacts our private and family life. All three rejected the argument that we could ‘just get married.’ All three emphasized that the government cannot maintain the status quo for much longer – they are on borrowed time. Lady Justice Arden accepted our case on almost every point. She stated: “My overall conclusion: the appellants are right.” We lost on a technicality – that the government should be allowed a little more time to make a decision. So there’s everything to fight for, and much in the ruling that gives us reason to be positive and keep going.”
Mr Keidan said:
“The Court of Appeal has made it clear the status quo cannot continue. The government should now recognize the benefits of opening civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples. The measure is fair, popular, good for families and children, and long overdue. They have everything to gain.”
Charles and Rebecca originally applied for notice to form a civil partnership in 2014, but were turned away by the registrars. They took their case to the High Court in January 2015, but the judge then ruled that the ban on mixed-sex civil partnerships was not unlawful. The judges in Charles and Rebecca’s appeal were clear that the current unequal access to civil partnerships cannot continue much longer.
In their ruling, Lord Justice Beatson said: “I do not consider that the discrimination in the status quo can be maintained for long.” Lord Justice Briggs said. “‘I can well understand the frustration which must be felt by the Appellants and those couples who share their view about marriage, about what they regard as the Government’s slow progress on this issue. Some couples in their position may suffer serious fiscal disadvantage if, for example, one of them dies before they can form a civil partnership.’
The couple’s solicitor, Louise Whitfield from Deighton Pierce Glynn, said:
“It is deeply disappointing that my clients lost their appeal by such a narrow margin on such an important issue, particularly when all three judges readily accepted that there had been a potential violation of their human rights. All three also agreed that the time available to the Government to address the obvious discrimination Charles and Rebecca face is limited. Lady Justice Arden accepted that time had already run out, whilst her fellow judges were unfortunately prepared to allow the Government a little more time, and thus the appeal was lost on this issue alone. It is therefore clear that the Government must act quickly in any event to deal with the discrimination which the court as a whole recognised could not continue indefinitely and which they agreed is ultimately unsustainable. We are therefore awaiting an urgent response from the Secretary of State as to her position in response to the judgment, whilst preparing an immediate application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.”
Since Charles and Rebecca first appeared in court over 72,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for civil partnerships to be open to all. The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign that was set up to support them has attracted the backing of MPs, MEPs, and Assembly Members from all parties, as well as from campaigners like Caroline Criado-Perez, Owen Jones, and Peter Tatchell, and organisations including Liberty and the Women’s Budget Group.
One supporter of the campaign is the education campaigner and journalist Fiona Millar. Ms Millar said:
“I am one of thousands and thousands of people in the UK in a mixed-sex relationship who will now be looking at the government and waiting for them to close the civil partnerships loophole by making them available to all. In 2004 the Labour government, albeit unwittingly, created a new, positive institution with a history, life, and future of its own. Now that that institution exists, offering a progressive and new way for couples to gain legal recognition of their relationship, it is only right and fair that that institution be available to all. I hope the government acts soon.”
The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign believes that they stand a good chance of seeing swift action from the government because their cause now has cross-party support. MPs from nearly every major party in Parliament, including the Conservative Party, back their campaign. Conservative MP Tim Loughton recently introduced a Private Members’ Bill to give mixed-sex couples the right to a civil partnership, which has received cross-party backing.
Mr Loughton said:
“The fact that my Bill for mixed-sex civil partnerships received cross-party backing means the government has no excuse for delaying the passage of this important and positive change. I look forward to the government bringing forward a Bill to the House, one that I know colleagues in my party and across the House will support.”
Matt Hawkins, Campaign Manager of the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign, said:
“Regardless of the decision made in court today this campaign has generated an incredible momentum of its own. Pursuing our legal case has always been one part of a much broader campaign and the number of people backing this cause continues to rise week on week. It’s incredible to be part of a cause that has such a broad tent of support – from MPs uniting across the political divide to organisations like Liberty and TUC Women to campaigners such as Peter Tatchell and Owen Jones. We thank all of them for taking us to this point and urge the government to recognise the force behind our cause, the desire for change, and the simplicity involved in making it happen.”
Veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said:
“This is a defeat for love and equality. It will be a huge disappointment to the thousands of heterosexual couples who would like to have a civil partnership. The court has rejected the principle that in a democratic society everyone should be equal before the law. It says that different-sex couples are not entitled to the same choices as same-sex ones. It cannot be right that lesbian and gay couples have two options, civil partnership and civil marriage; whereas opposite-sex partners have only one option, marriage. This legal case was always about the simple quest to end discrimination and ensure equality for all. I hope Charles and Rebecca will appeal this judgement and that justice will prevail in the end.”