- Equalities Minister Justine Greening @Govt_EqualityMinister for Women and Equalities, Government Equalities Office
Open civil partnerships to all
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We’re Rebecca and Charles, we have a toddler called Eden, a baby called Ariel, 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: Civil partnerships are still only available to same-sex couples. This limits the choice for mixed-sex couples, like us, who want to form a civil partnership - a modern institution that provides similar legal status and financial 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 2 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 children as equal partners and feel that a civil partnership – a modern, symmetrical institution – sets the best example for them.
Sadly, the government has taken a different view. But with your support, we've mounted a legal challenge to their position: Our case will be heard in the Supreme Court on 15th and 16th May 2018.
We're also fighting on the political front. We've generated extensive cross-party parliamentary support with politicians from every major party now backing our cause. The London Assembly unanimously passed a motion supporting mixed-sex civil partnerships, and the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is in favour of opening civil partnerships to all. Conservative MP Tim Loughton’s private members’ bill to give mixed-sex couples the right to a civil partnership has also received cross-party backing, and is due for its second reading early next year.
The forces in favour of reform now significantly outnumber those who remain opposed. The tide turned some time ago and there is only so long that the government can continue to swim against it.
We won’t rest until the government recognises that opening civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples is fair and popular, and good for families and children. We are confident that it will, eventually, recognise this clear logic.
To help us make #equalcivilpartnerships a reality, we ask you to please do the following:
1. Write to your MP and ask them to attend the second reading of Tim Loughton’s private members’ bill, scheduled for Friday 2nd February 2018. Loughton's bill, entitled Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill 2017-19, would give mixed-sex couples the right to a civil partnership, as well as including mother's names on marriage certificates.
2. 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
3. Please donate: https://www.gofundme.com/ECPcampaigns
We'll keep you updated with our progress.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for all your support. We literally could never have gotten this far without the incredible support from tens of thousands of people, like you, who, like us, desperately want to see civil partnerships made available to all couples.
Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan
Like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/equalcivilpartnerships/
Follow us on Twitter: @EqualCPs
Use #equalcivilpartnerships #equallove
- Minister for Women and Equalities, Government Equalities Office
Equalities Minister Justine Greening @Govt_Equality
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, mixed-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 mixed-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 mixed-sex couples by signing this petition. Ask other political and public figures to do the same.
2. Publicly support Tim Loughton MP's Private Members Bill proposing an amendment to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to enable opposite-sex couples to form civil partnerships. This bill, entitled the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill 2017-19, already has cross-party support and represents important equalities legislation.
3. Call on Teresa May and the leaders of all political parties to support opening civil partnerships to all via Loughton's proposed PMB.
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 80,013 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.
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