March 4, 2019
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amendments had been tabled for the Bill and all three discussed during the Report stage, all three were ultimately withdrawn, allowing the Bill to pass unopposed or amended through to its next and final stage in the Lords, the Third reading.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
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.
February 26, 2019
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 (email@example.com)
- Labour Whips Office, House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lib Dem Whips Office, House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW email@example.com
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
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.
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.
Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld
October 26, 2018
A Private Members Bill by Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, Tim Loughton, which would ultimately extend civil partnerships to all, has completed its passage through the House of Commons and will now be considered by Peers.
An amendment to his own Bill by Mr Loughton, which was also carried, will now require the Government to “make regulations to bring about equality between same-sex couples and other couples” within six months of it becoming law. This means that civil partnerships are set to be extended to all by Autumn 2019.
Martin Loat, the Chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, said:
“We welcome the progress of the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill today. We congratulate and thank Tim Loughton MP for his championing of equal civil partnerships and his determination to hold the Government’s “feet to the fire”. There can be no further excuse to keep couples waiting and I call on the Government now to ensure that this Bill becomes law as quickly as possible.”
Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld, the couple who successfully challenged the Government in the Supreme Court in June, added:
“Many people will be surprised that we still waiting for the opportunity to have our civil partnership five months after the Supreme Court ruled in our favour and a month after the Prime Minister made a personal commitment to open up civil partnerships to all. Now the Government has a mechanism and timeline to legislate, so we – and the millions of other couples in our situation – can celebrate.”
The Bill is now expected to go to the House of Lords in the next couple of months and to become law in the Spring, after which the Government will have six months to draw up the detailed regulations for the introduction of civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples.
October 22, 2018
Today (22 October), Tim Loughton, MP, announced an amendment to his own Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration) Bill which has its Report stage of its passage through the Commons on Friday, 26 October.
In effect, the amendment states that the Government will make regulations to bring about equality of civil partnerships and that this must take place within six months of the Bill being passed. This means that his Bill – if passed through Parliament – will lead to mixed-sex couples being able to have a civil partnership before the end of 2019.
This comes less than a month after Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the Government supported opening up CPs to all, but she gave no time frame.
I know that many supporters of equal civil partnerships would like the law changed sooner (as I do). But the realities of Parliamentary procedure, aligning various ministries and the distractions of Brexit, mean that putting a six-month cap on it after the Bill becomes law (hopefully in Spring 2019) is the most pragmatic way to avoid any wriggling out with excuses about “consultations and procedure”.
If he can steer his amendment and Bill through, Tim should be congratulated for being the one to hold the Government to a definite time frame for its own pronouncements.
We want to encourage all our supporters to keep up the fight. Please send a postcard, email (you can find your MP’s email on www.writetothem.com),tweet your MP (adding handle @EqualCPs and hashtag #equalcivilpartnerships) or telephone them at their office to tell them you want them to attend the debate on Friday morning and to support this amendment.
Many thanks Tim Loughton and good luck from us all at the Campaign!
Chair, Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign
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.