November 2, 2016
The London Assembly has unanimously passed a motion backing the extension of civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples. This vote has been welcomed by the Equal Civil Partnerships who said it sends a “powerful message” and urged the government to follow the lead being set by City Hall by extending civil partnerships.
As it stands although marriage is available to all couples civil partnerships are restricted to same-sex couples. In January this year London couple Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan went to the High Court seeking to lift the ban on different-sex civil partnerships. Their appeal is being heard today.
Since the couple went to court in January 70,000 people have signed a petition calling for civil partnerships to be extended to mixed-sex couples and MPs from all parties have given their backing to the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign which has been set up to support Charles and Rebecca.
The motion to the London Assembly was presented by Green Assembly Member Caroline Russell and backed by the Liberal Democrat’s Caroline Pidgeon. It follows the lead set by the London Assembly in 2000 when the body introduced same-sex partnership registration before civil partnerships came into law. The motion now goes to the Mayor Sadiq Khan for final approval.
Caroline Russell AM said:
“Whatever the outcome of the case currently being heard by the Court of Appeal we should be unequivocal in our support for different-sex couples forming civil partnerships.
“For true equality the law should properly reflect the values modern couples hold, and their desire to have these principles reflected in the legal recognition of their relationships.
“London is a forward-facing city and we should not hesitate to push for this next step to provide a legal alternative to marriage.”
Matt Hawkins, Campaign Manager for the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign, said:
“In voting to support the extension of civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples the London Assembly has sent a powerful message to the government and has followed in the trailblazing footsteps this Assembly set back in 2000 when it introduced same-sex partnership registration. It adds to the amazing groundswell of support our campaign now has from MPs and MEPs of all parties, from our 71,000 petition supporters, and from organisations like Liberty and the Women’s Budget Group. We hope that the government now does the right thing, listens to the voices of the Assembly and the London Mayor and gives mixed-sex couples the right to the financial and legal protections that a civil partnerships offers.”
November 2, 2016
Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan will appear at the Royal Courts in London today seeking to overturn the government ban on different-sex civil partnerships.
Steinfeld and Keidan say that they want legal and financial protection for them and their daughter but have never felt comfortable with marriage. Their legal team will argue that the ban on different-sex civil partnerships is unfair because it treats people differently dependent on their sexuality
A public gathering will take place outside the Royal Courts in support of Steinfeld and Keidan attended by journalist and LGBT campaigner Owen Jones and many of the 70,000 supporters who have signed a petition calling for the extension of civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples.
Ms Steinfeld said:
“We are going to the Court of Appeal on behalf of ourselves and the more than 70,000 people who have signed our petition calling for civil partnerships to be open to all. Those people will have lots of different reasons for choosing not to get married: from personal experiences to principled objections, to simply not feeling ready. It’s not for the Government to dictate how couples choose to formalise their commitment but it is for the Government to ensure all couples are financially and legally protected.”
Mr Keidan said:
“The government has everything to gain by opening civil partnerships to different sex couples. Civil partnerships offer the possibility of legal protections and family stability for 3 million unmarried couples – the fastest growing family type in the UK. Civil partnerships already exist for same-sex couples. It would now be fair, straightforward and popular for the government to extend them to everyone.”
Alistair Carmichael MP helped to steer equal marriage through parliament in 2013. Mr Carmichael said:
“As an MP in the last Parliament I was proud to vote in favour of extending the right to marry to all couples who love each other, whether they are in a mixed-sex relationship or not. People need to be free to choose to celebrate their love however they want.
“My wife and I have been married for 29 years and I think that marriage is a great institution. I realise, however, that it is not right for everyone and that many people want to have the legal protections that come from marriage without any of the other social or religious implications that come with it. For them, registering their relationship as a civil partnership should be available. It is no longer logical that this route should be open to people in same sex couples but not in mixed-sex relationships. The law needs to change.
“I’m supporting Rebecca and Charles and their campaign to ensure civil partnerships are an option for everyone. When the Court of Appeals announces their decision, I hope the Government will be quick to respond, and open up civil partnerships to anyone who wants one.”
Journalist and campaigner Owen Jones said:
“I’m really glad to be able to back this campaign. Many people don’t like the historic baggage of marriage and everyone should have the right to express their love in a way that works for them. I want equality for everyone and that means giving mixed-sex couples the right to a civil partnership.”
The couple sought a judicial review of the law after having their application for a civil partnership refused. Although they were unsuccessful at the first hearing in January, the judge said that she recognised the “wider public interest” of the case and that it was an issue “many would sympathise with”. The couple were given the right to appeal.
Louise Whitfield, a partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn, the legal firm representing Charles and Rebecca, said:
“We are very hopeful that the judges will realise the importance of this issue and how unfair the current arrangements are for couples like Charles and Rebecca. Even though she dismissed the original case, the judge in the judicial review recognised how significant the unfairness was for many people’s right to family life, and she acknowledged that my clients should be allowed to have the issues considered by a higher court. This is Charles and Rebecca’s chance to be treated fairly and equally in terms of how their relationship is recognised, a crucial legal right for them and many others.”
Since the first ruling, different sex civil partnerships have been introduced in the Isle of Man. The first civil partnership for a heterosexual couple took place there on Friday 14th October and on Friday 21st October Martin Loat and Claire Beale became the first different-sex couple from the UK to get a civil partnership in the British Isles when they flew to the Isle of Man for the ceremony.
Martin Loat said:
“We regard ourselves as one of the millions of happily unmarried couples in the UK. We want financial and legal protection for us and for our children but marriage just simply isn’t for us. We had a wonderful time visiting the Isle of Man but for many people living in the UK this simply isn’t an option. People should be able to get a civil partnership near their home and their family and I hope that after this court case the government will make that possible for all mixed-sex couples in the UK.”
The education campaigner and journalist Fiona Millar is one of a number of public figures supporting the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign. Ms Millar said:
“Like many other people campaigning for equal civil partnership, we just want to have the same rights as same-sex couples. Every couple and every family should have the same legal rights regardless of how they choose to express their personal relationships. I am angry that an equalities minister is going to court, wasting public money, to stop a simple change in the law that could bring more equality.”
October 21, 2016
Martin and Claire
A woman and man from London will today become the first UK-based heterosexual couple to enter into a civil partnership in the British Isles. The couple have to travel to the Isle of Man for the ceremony as different-sex civil partnerships are currently not available to couples living in the UK.
Claire Beale and Martin Loat, who reside in Ealing in west London with their two children aged 14 and 10, have lived together since 1992. They have said that they want a formal recognition of the relationship but they have never wanted to get married.
But, despite being legal for same-sex couples since 2004, civil partnerships are not permitted for different-sex couples in the UK. The Isle of Man, which is a Crown Dependency but not part of the UK, introduced different-sex civil partnership in July this year.
Ms Beale and Mr Loat have decided to form their civil partnership in the Isle of Man so they can achieve the legal recognition for their relationship that they have always wanted in the only form that is available to them today. They hope that that either the UK government will have to follow the Isle of Man’s lead and end discrimination against heterosexuals seeking civil partnerships, or that pressure will build until such a civil partnership formed in the Isle of Man will be deemed as valid in the UK.
“We respect that other people in committed, lasting relationships might want to opt for marriage, but it’s not right for us,” they said. “We regard ourselves as one of the millions of ‘happily unmarried’ couples in the UK. We want a less encumbered, light-touch civil union that recognises our relationship on our terms, free from the trappings and social pre-conditions of marriage, while protecting our family financially and in law.”
Last week Adeline Cosson and Kieran Hodgson became the first ever different-sex couple in the British Isles to get a civil partnership. As residents of the Isle of the Man their union will be recognised by their home government unlike Ms Beale and Mr Loat, who must hope for a change in UK law.
The Isle of Man ceremonies come less than two weeks before the Appeal court in London is due to hear the case of another London couple – Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan – who have brought a legal case against HM Government on the grounds that the ban on different-sex civil partnerships goes against the Human Right Act. The couple lost the first ruling on their case in January this year.
They decided to appeal following a wave of public support which has seen 70,000 people sign an online petition in support of civil partnerships being open to all, regardless of sexual orientation
Both the London couples are part of the campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships.
Mr Loat added: “We now have 0.1% of British Isles sewn up, only another 99.1% to go!”
October 16, 2016
Adeline Cosson, 24, and Kieran Hodgson, 22, have become the first ever different-sex couple in the British Isles to enter into a civil partnership.
The couple, who live on the Isle of Man, had a ceremony in Douglas in the morning of Friday 14th. Although civil partnerships are not currently available for different-sex couples living in the United Kingdom, they are available in the Isle of Man which is separate from the UK. They were introduced on the Isle this summer.
Cosson and Hodgson said they wanted to “keep it simple”.
Cosson said “We didn’t want to call it a marriage, we wanted to call it a civil partnership…We were told we were the first ever. We are very proud to do it.
“The main thing was that we wanted to keep it simple. We are a young couple. We do want to get married one day but not now; at a later date. This gives us rights under the law.
“It helps couples move forward without having to get married right now. To create full equality on the Isle of Man, they have allowed gay couples to get married but also to start civil partnerships.”
Commenting on Cosson and Hodgson’s union, Matt Hawkins, of the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign, said: “I’m delighted to send congratulations to Adeline and Kieran. I hope that the joy they share in their civil partnership is one that many different-sex couples across the British Isles will soon be able to experience.
“It seems remarkable that different-sex couples in Britain are now just a stone’s throw away from getting a civil partnership. Extending civil partnerships extends choice and gives couples who do not feel a marriage is right for them the chance to gain legal and financial protection for their relationship and, if they have any, their children.
“With our 70,000 supporters, politicians backing us from every party, and endorsements from fantastic organisations, we are confident that that choice and opportunity will soon be extended and Adeline and Kieran’s example followed by couples across Britain.”
Since Cosson and Hodgson’s union was announced the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign has received a number of inquiries from people asking if they could go to the Isle of Man from the UK, get a civil partnerships and then have it recognised back in Britain. At present it is unclear since this has never been tested in law before. The French equivalent of a civil partnership – pacs – has been recognised but we expect that is because the legal rights gained by couples who enter into them are less than those of a marriage. It will require a “test case” to be undertaken whereby a couple tries to have the rights gained from a civil partnership entered into on the Isle of Man recognised in the UK.
October 7, 2016
The Equal Civil Partnerships this week wrote to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Chief Minister of Jersey Ian Gorst asking for their support.
We have good reason to believe that in these bids we will be successful.
Our campaign now has the backing of London Assembly Members from the Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats. In 2000 City Hall in London did something brave and bold: it introduced the first ever registration scheme for same-sex couples, the first step along the way to civil partnerships and ultimately equal marriage. We want the Mayor to follow that legacy and the lead of his Assembly Members and use his position to promote and push for the extension of civil partnerships. We’ve requested a meeting with Sadiq so watch this space!
We also wrote to the Chief Minister in Jersey. Jersey is in the process of introducing same-sex marriage and in our letter we urged the States (as they are known) to do what the British government should have done in 2013: extend civil partnerships. With the precedent now set by the Isle of Man for this cause, we have great hope that Chief Minister Gorst will be open to the idea.
The letters went in the post yesterday so we will keep you updated once we have news!
September 16, 2016
More than half of respondents (52%) to a Scottish government consultation on civil partnerships think they should be extended to different-sex couples.
The option of extending civil partnerships had the support of an overwhelming majority of those who completed the survey. Less than 30% now believe that civil partnerships should not be extended.
The data was obtained by the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign from the Scottish government. Matt Hawkins, Campaign Manager for the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign, said:
“The results of the Scottish government’s consultation adds to the momentum behind our call for the extension of civil partnerships to different-sex couples. This summer the Isle of Man introduced different-sex civil partnerships and over 70,000 people have signed our petition asking the British government to do the same. We’re simply asking that more people are given a choice over how their relationship is expressed – something a lot of people can get behind. As more and more people support the cause, the demand will be harder to ignore.”
Currently in Britain all couples can marry but only different-sex couples can get a civil partnership. Amongst the European nations that have introduced same-sex marriage, Britain is unique in still reserving one form of union to one type of couple. The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign is calling for that anomaly to end. The campaign argues that many couples would like the legal protection of marriage but don’t feel the ceremony or institution is right for them.
The campaign is backed by organisations such as The Equality Network, Progressive Women, and Humanist Society Scotland, by campaigners including Owen Jones, Peter Tatchell, and Ellie Mae O’Hagan, and politicians including Green Party Co-Leader and MP Caroline Lucas, the Women’s Equality Party, Tim Loughton MP, and Alistair Carmichael MP.
September 9, 2016
On Thursday 8th September, the Office of National Statistics released data on the number of civil partnerships that were registered in 2015. It showed that there were 861 civil partnerships in 2015 compared to 1683 in 2014. This drop came as no surprise however: last year same-sex couples were able to get married for the first time ever.
In response the release of the statistics, we issued this statement:
“That nearly 1000 couples registered for a civil partnership last year shows that there is still a demand for this union, this recognition of a relationship. It is unsurprising that the numbers have fallen now that marriage is rightly open to same-sex couples and that is to be celebrated: it demonstrates that same-sex couples are now able to choose the kind of arrangement that is right for them. That is a right we want to see extended to different-sex couples and our campaign will continue until the choice is available to all.”
August 25, 2016
Following the introduction of civil partnerships for difference sex couples in Scotland we were delighted to receive the support of both the Humanist Society Scotland and the Scotland-based Equality Network. The Humanist Society has approximately 7000 members whilst the Equality Network is one of the leading LGBTIQ campaign organisations in Scotland. Gaining their support helps us to build the case for the introduction of equal civil partnerships across Britain.
August 4, 2016
The major boost to our campaign granted by the decision in the Isle of Man to give different sex couples the right to a civil partnership continues to be felt.
This week the Daily Telegraph published an excellent feature on the Isle of Man’s decision, assessing whether British couples will be able to get a civil partnership on the island and have it recognised in Britain. The fact that they probably will not only adds to the pressure on the British government who will be seen as denying legally obtained rights of different sex couples.
The article states:
“New legislation which has just come into force on the Island [Isle of Man] – a crown dependency separate from but closely tied to the UK – will create new pressure in mainland Britain for straight couples to be allowed to form legally recognised partnerships.
“But it also creates a new legal grey area in other parts of Britain, with uncertainty over how opposite sex couples in civil partnerships under Manx law will be recognised, if at all.”
Our campaign will be continuing to promote the precedence set by the Isle of Man as yet further evidence that Britain needs to catch up and extend civil partnerships to all couples.
July 29, 2016
We’ve reached a moment of real opportunity for the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign. We have a new prime minister and Minister for Equalities in place. We’ve employed a new campaign manager. Charles and Rebecca’s court case is coming up this November. And the Isle of Man has just introduced civil partnerships for different sex couples.
We need to seize this opportunity.
That’s why we’ve launched our first ever major campaign fundraising drive. Thanks to the generous donations of members of the public the legal case has already been funded but now we need your support to help us run our political campaign. Because, even if the court decides in our favour this November, we will need the support of politicians to ensure that the law gets changed.
Your donations will help us run our campaign, produce materials designed to convince MPs of our cause, and pay for the drafting of the legislation we want to introduce.