October 3, 2018
The full text of the press release issued by the Government yesterday morning.
The Government will change the law to allow opposite-sex couples in England and Wales to enter into a civil partnership.
Under the current system, same-sex couples can choose to marry or register for a civil partnership whereas opposite-sex couples can only get married.
Extending civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples will not only address this imbalance, it will also provide greater security for couples who want to gain legal recognition for their relationship.
There are over 3.3 million unmarried couple families in the UK living together with shared financial responsibilities and nearly half of them with children. These households do not have the same legal protections as those who have a civil partnership or marriage.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “This change in the law helps protect the interests of opposite-sex couples who want to commit, want to formalise their relationship but don’t necessarily want to get married. As Home Secretary, I was proud to sponsor the legislation that created equal marriage. Now, by extending civil partnerships, we are making sure that all couples, be they same-sex or opposite-sex, are given the same choices in life.”
Equalities Minster, Penny Mordaunt, said: “This is an important step forward for equality. There are all sorts of reasons why people may choose not to marry. By giving couples this option we hope to give them and their families more certainty and security.
I pay tribute to all who have campaigned for this change and will introduce the change as swiftly as possible.”
Extending civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples will provide a positive alternative for couples who might not have legally committed to each other otherwise.
The ability for couples to formalise their relationship encourages greater commitment, leading to greater family stability and greater security within relationships to help protect children’s interests.
Many unmarried couples in a long-standing relationship believe that they have acquired rights similar to those of married couples but in fact there is no such thing as ‘common law marriage’, no matter how long a couple have lived together, even if they have children together.
This means cohabiting partners are not eligible for tax reliefs and exemptions for spouses and civil partners, including the inheritance tax exemption and the marriage income tax allowance.
In addition, a surviving cohabitant has no automatic right to inherit their partner’s estate, meaning they might not be able to afford to stay in the family home.
Bereavement Support Payments do not apply to cohabiting couples; a cohabitant does not benefit from their partner’s contributions for the purposes of state pensions and many occupational pension schemes do not provide the same survivor benefits to such couples.
Nor do unmarried couples have a guaranteed right to ownership of each other’s property on relationship breakdown. (A court may determine the shares based on the individual circumstances of their financial arrangements.)
There are a number of legal issues to consider, across pension and family law, and the Government will now consult on the technical detail.
October 2, 2018
The Government has announced today that it will now commit to extending civil partnerships to all.
The commitment, announced in today’s Evening Standard, is a response to the Supreme Court decision in June that a policy of single-sex civil partnerships only is discriminatory. However, no time-frame has been provided yet for the new legislation.
Martin Loat, Chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, says:
“We welcome today’s announcement as another important step forward towards civil partnerships for all. Legislation would be fair, popular and promote stable families. Millions of couples will join us in thanking Penny Mordaunt, the Equalities Minister, for her support in getting to this point. A promise is a promise but what we need now is action, and soon. The Equal Civil Partnerships campaign won’t rest until legislation is in place and we are still not there yet.
“The next Parliamentary opportunity to amend the law will be the Report Stage of Tim Loughton MP’s Civil Partnerships, Marriages & Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill on Friday 26th October. The Campaign is waiting to hear from the Government how it will now legislate to make good on its promise.”
Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, whose battle for a civil partnership, has taken them through the British courts up to their win in the Supreme Court, say:
“This is great news and a major step in the right direction, but we will only celebrate when legislation is agreed and the Government confirms the date for when the first different-sex civil partnership can take place. Change is long overdue. We’ve been struggling for four long years to open civil partnerships to all for the millions of couples like us who want legal recognition and financial protection for their relationship.
“Now we urge the Government to finish the job so that couples such as Joanna and Steve, who has terminal cancer, can celebrate their love for each other in a way that is meaningful to them, before it is too late.”
August 17, 2018
The ONS have published the statistics on same sex civil partnersips for 2017 with the key finding that the number of people choosing a civil partnership rose by 2% over the previous year. This is the second annual increase since the introduction of same sex marriage in 2013.
We are delighted for all the couples who have chosen to celebrate and formalise their life together in this way. It is also hugely relevant to our cause as one of the issues to be looked at in the Command Paper issued by the Government in May is the ongoing take-up of civil partnerships amongst same sex couples.
Martin Loat, Chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign Group, states
These figures show a clear ongoing demand for civil partnerships, despite same sex couples being able to choose the option of marriage. A civil partnership is the real preference for many couples – both same and different sex – who want to formalise their relationship in law.
July 19, 2018
On Wednesday July 18th, Tim Loughton, MP, took his Private Members Bill through the committee stage of its passing. ECP Chair, Martin Loat, has provided a statement on what happened and what our next steps are.
July 4, 2018
On June 27th, after the Supreme Court Judgment, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan delivered a letter to Penny Mordaunt MP at the Department for International Development to be read in her capacity as Minister for Women and Equalities.
This is the text of the letter.
Re: After today’s Supreme Court ruling, open civil partnerships to all now
Dear Ms. Mordaunt,
On 1st October 2014, we walked into Chelsea Register office to form a civil partnership. But we were turned away because, we were told, civil partnerships were not for opposite-sex couples.
Four years on, we continue to build our relationship as a partnership of equals, and try to set the best example for our two small children, Eden and Ariel. Legal protection and financial security have become more important now that we have a family of our own. But we continue to be denied these protections, along with over three million other cohabiting couples – the fastest growing family type in the UK.
We know that you and the Government share our commitment to families and equality. So, it is lamentable that we have been forced to go all the way to the Supreme Court simply to make sure that the same rights are available to all. You can and must put this right.
The Government has already acknowledged that the current situation is unequal, unfair and unsustainable. Of the two options available to achieve equality – extension and abolition – you yourself have publicly assured Stonewall that abolition is not an option.
So, we urge you to seize the opportunity to turn defeat into victory: Declare today that you will legislate within this Parliamentary session to extend civil partnerships to all. You can use the “fast-track amendment procedure” in Article 10 to take remedial action or you can back Tim Loughton’s original Private Members Bill.
You can be the minister that completes the circle of full relationship equality. Please seize this historic opportunity.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Dr Rebecca Steinfeld and Mr Charles Keidan
July 4, 2018
After the landmark victory at the Supreme Court on 27 June 2018, both Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan made statements to the waiting press and well-wishers.
Well, we have won our legal battle!
The highest court in the land has stated, unequivocally and unanimously – five, nil – that there is no, and never has been any, justification for what they call a ‘manifest inequality of treatment.’
Thank you to our formidable legal team: our solicitor Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn, and Karon Monaghan and Sarah Hannett of Matrix Chambers. This resounding victory would not have been possible without them.
Today, we are a step closer to opening civil partnerships to all, a measure that would be fair, popular and good for families and children across
We are elated, but to get this far, Charlie and I have had to go toe-to-toe with the Government over four long years, confronting four Equalities Ministers across three courts. They have wasted taxpayers’ money to defend and maintain a blatant inequality. So please forgive us if today, alongside the satisfaction we feel, we also feel a degree of sorrow and frustration at the delays, obstruction and official resistance we’ve experienced.
People are already suffering because of the Government’s delays.
Joanna and Steve are a different-sex couple with three grown up children. Like us, they want to formalise their relationship in a civil partnership. But Steve has terminal cancer, so time is running out.
Today’s Declaration of Incompatibility from the Supreme Court means that the Government is legally bound to end the difference in treatment between same-sex and different-sex couples’ access to civil partnerships, most likely by extending them to all or by abolishing them.
Human rights law is meant to work progressively, giving everyone the same advantages, not the same disadvantages. The Minister for Women and Equalities, Penny Mordaunt MP, has already publicly assured the UK’s leading LGBT organisation, Stonewall, that civil partnerships will be retained for same-sex couples.
Therefore, there is only one option: to extend civil partnerships to all.
For the sake of Joanna and Steve, and thousands of other couples across the country, we hope that the Government will act with urgency.
It is within their power – and indeed it is their duty – to do so.
So we say to Ms. Mordaunt: Please use the “fast-track amendment procedure” in Article 10 to take remedial action now or back Tim Loughton’s original Private Members Bill.
You can be the minister that completes the circle of full relationship equality. Please seize this historic opportunity.
We wouldn’t be in the position we are today without the encouragement and support we’ve received from people across the UK.
Gathered here are a small number of the 132,000 of you who have signed our Change.org petition. We are so happy to be standing alongside you. Thank you for sharing with us your personal stories. They have kept us going through the long journey to this resounding victory.
Special thanks go to the campaign steering group who have stuck together and been with us all the way through the highs and lows.
Today we’ve won in court and we are celebrating this major and hopefully defining milestone! But the fight for civil partnerships doesn’t end here. It can and must go on unless and until civil partnerships are extended to all couples. So please continue to back the campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships on GoFundMe.
The law is on our side. Now the Government must join us in doing the right thing. Open civil partnerships to all.
Thank you for your support.
June 27, 2018
The Supreme Court has declared the Government’s refusal to allow opposite-sex civil partnerships ‘incompatible’ with human rights law!
The Government will now have to end the unequal situation whereby same-sex couples can chose between marriage and civil partnerships but opposite-sex couples only have access to marriage. Penny Mordaunt MP, the Equalities Minister, has previously publicly ruled out the option of abolishing same-sex civil partnerships, leaving the Government with only one option: extending civil partnerships to all.
Charles and Rebecca have expressed their relief and elation at this resounding victory in their four-year legal battle. Thanking over 132,000 supporters who have signed a Change.org petition in support of their case, they urged the Government to use the fastest possible legislative route to make civil partnerships available to all. They say:
“We have fought this battle not only on our own behalf but for 3.3 million unmarried couples in England and Wales. Many 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. The law needs to catch up with the reality of family life in Britain in 2018.
People are already suffering because of the Government’s delays. Joanna and Steve from Yorkshire are an opposite-sex couple with three grown up children. Like us, they want to formalise their relationship in a civil partnership. But Steve has terminal cancer, so time is running out. For the sake of Joanna and Steve, and thousands of other couples across the country, we hope that the Government will act with urgency.
Today we’ve won in court, but the fight for civil partnerships doesn’t end here. It can and must go on unless and until civil partnerships are extended to all couples. The law is on our side. Now the Government must join us in doing the right thing: open civil partnerships to all.
We have therefore delivered a letter to the Equalities Minister, Penny Mordaunt MP, urging her to seize victory from the jaws of defeat by announcing today that the Government will legislate within this Parliamentary session to extend civil partnerships to all.”
Martin Loat, chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, said:
“Our campaign group came together to support Rebecca and Charles four years ago, but has grown into a force that provides a voice on this important issue for thousands of supporters nationwide. We welcome today’s ruling and will be keeping up the pressure for a fast change to equalise the law. The Government has had long enough, the time to act is now.”
The judgment has been welcomed by the couple’s solicitor, Louise Whitfield, of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Tim Loughton MP, who is bringing a private members bill to extend civil partnerships to all and is one vehicle that the Government could use to meet the Court’s demand.
June 24, 2018
The Judgment will be read by three Supreme Court justices at 9.45am on Wednesday 27th June in Courtroom one.
Around 10am, Charles and Rebecca will deliver their response to the media and supporters outside the Court, together with their solicitor, Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Tim Loughton MP, who is bringing a private members bill to end the current inequality.
They will then march to the office of Penny Mordaunt MP, the Equalities Minister, at the Department for International Development on 22 Whitehall, to deliver a letter calling on the Government to act as a matter of urgency.
Commenting ahead of the judgment, Charles and Rebecca say:
“We believe our legal team has made an overwhelming argument but whatever the outcome on all the substantive issues the Government has already conceded that the current inequality cannot continue.”
Martin Loat, Chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships Group, is clear that there is only one realistic solution. He comments:
“The Secretary of State has publicly reassured Stonewall that she will not abolish civil partnerships for same sex couples. As a result, there is only one possible way forward – giving everyone the right to a civil partnership – and we urge the Government to seize this opportunity to announce it will end this injustice now.”
June 21, 2018
The judgement will be handed down at 9.45 am on Wednesday 27 June in Courtroom 1 at the Supreme Court. It will be livestreamed from the Supreme Court website and an announcement will be made as soon as the result is known.
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.