- Equalities Minister Justine Greening @Govt_EqualityMinister for Women and Equalities, Government Equalities Office
Open civil partnerships to all
We’re Rebecca and Charles, we have a baby and we want to cement and celebrate our relationship by having a civil partnership. But we can’t because the Civil Partnership Act 2004 states: ‘Two people are not eligible to register as civil partners of each other if … they are not of the same sex.’
We met in 2010, became engaged in 2013, and together we were involved in the fight for same-sex marriage within our community. It is fantastic social progress that couples can now marry regardless of sex or sexual orientation.
We’ve been left, however, with a hangover from this important reform: Marriage is available to both same-sex and different-sex couples, but civil partnerships are currently only available to same-sex couples. This limits the choice for different-sex couples, like us, who want to form a civil partnership - an institution that would provide the same legal protections as marriage.
The current system doesn’t make sense and needs to be brought into line with places such as Holland and New Zealand where couples can choose between marriage and civil partnership.
Opening civil partnerships to all would bring the law up to date with the reality of family life: 3 million cohabiting couples with 1.8 million dependent children, all of whom currently lack the protection of marriage and choice of civil partnership.
From a personal perspective, the legacy of marriage – that it treated women as property for centuries, excluded same-sex couples until 2014, and still leaves room only for fathers’ names on marriage certificates – means that marriage is not an option for us. We want to raise our child as equal partners and feel that a civil partnership – a modern, symmetrical institution – sets the best example for her.
Sadly, for reasons that remain unclear, the government has taken a different view. But with your support, we've mounted a legal challenge of that decision. Our judicial review was heard in the High Court in January 2016. Sadly the judge ruled against us, but she said that “this case raises issues of wider public importance” that deserve scrutiny by a higher court. She also acknowledged that many would regard the continued ban on opposite-sex couples’ access to civil partnerships as unfair.
So we're continuing to campaign for equal civil partnerships: Our case was heard in the Court of Appeal on 2nd and 3rd November 2016. Now we await judgement. We'll keep you updated with progress in our legal case.
In the meantime, we need your help.
1. Please sign and share this petition, telling the Minister for Women and Equalities that you support opening up civil partnerships to all. http://www.change.org/civilpartnershipsforall
2. Please contribute to our campaign effort: https://www.gofundme.com/ECPcampaigns
3. Come together with thousands of others who wish to see civil partnerships are available to those that choose them by joining the campaign http://equalcivilpartnerships.org.uk, liking our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/equalcivilpartnerships/ and following us on Twitter @EqualCPs.
Thank you for your support!
Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld
- Minister for Women and Equalities, Government Equalities Office
Equalities Minister Justine Greening @Govt_Equality
- Secretary of State for Education
Nicky Morgan MP
Dear Rt. Hon Justine Greening MP,
I have signed this petition calling on you as the Minister for Women and Equalities to open civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples.
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 stipulates that only same-sex couples can enter into civil partnerships. Now, same-sex couples can choose whether to have a civil partnership or marriage, but, as the law stands, opposite-sex couples cannot choose between civil partnership and marriage. This means that rights and privileges are extended to one group of people whilst being denied to others. The same principle of equality should apply to all couples regardless of sexual orientation.
Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld are one such opposite-sex couple who are being denied a civil partnership. When they decided to formalise their commitment to each other, they wanted to express it in a way that reflected their values. They already see themselves as partners, so an official civil partnership captures the essence of their relationship. They wish to be part of a modern social institution that formalises a relationship of equals, and that has sought to include previously marginalised groups. Being civil partners would give them, and thousands of other long-term cohabiting couples like them, greater legal rights and responsibilities without the social expectations, pressures and traditions surrounding marriage. As you will be aware, there is public support for opening civil partnerships to all. Your government’s consultation in 2012 found that 78,556 people supported the extension of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples – 61% of respondents.
As Equalities Minister, with responsibility for the Government Equalities Office, you can act now to eliminate the barriers to equality by opening civil partnerships to all regardless of sexual orientation. I urge you to take the following three actions:
1. Publicly state your and your office's support for opening civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples by signing this petition. Ask other political and public figures to do the same.
2. Publicly support, and demand parliamentary time to debate, the Private Members Bill proposing an amendment to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to enable opposite-sex couples to form civil partnerships. This bill has been tabled by Tim Loughton MP and has cross-party support. This is important equalities legislation.
3. Call on Teresa May and the leaders of all political parties to support opening civil partnerships to all via the proposed amendment to the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
Ms. Greening, you have a unique opportunity to create a fairer and more equal society.
Please seize that opportunity now.
Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld started this petition with a single signature, and now has 72,579 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.