- 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 toddler called Eden, 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 mixed-sex couples, but civil partnerships are currently only available to same-sex couples. This limits the choice for mixed-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 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 child as equal partners and feel that a civil partnership – a modern, symmetrical institution – sets the best example for her.
Sadly, the government has taken a different view. But with your support, we've mounted a legal challenge to their position. Our case was heard in the Court of Appeal in November 2016. Though we lost narrowly in a 2:1 split decision, all three judges were critical of the status quo. They agreed that we are being treated differently because of our sexual orientation, and that this has an impact on our private and family life. They rejected the argument that we could just get married. And, most importantly, they emphasised that the government cannot just wait and see indefinitely, but must make a decision quickly.
So we're continuing to fight for equal civil partnerships. We will continue the legal fight: Unless the government commits to lifting the ban on mixed-sex civil partnerships, we will be appealing this decision to the Supreme Court. We will also continue our political efforts. Together with everyone involved in the campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships, we will build on the positive parliamentary support we’ve already received. Politicians from every major party now back our cause. Conservative MP Tim Loughton’s private members’ bill to give mixed-sex couples the right to a civil partnership has received cross-party backing. 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. 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. Please donate: https://www.gofundme.com/ECPcampaigns
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
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.
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 78,208 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.