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.

Until recently, the Government took a different view.

But with your support, we mounted a successful legal challenge to their position. In June 2018, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the current situation is discriminatory, cannot be justified, and is therefore unlawful. Consequently, the judges made a 'Declaration of Incompatibility,' giving the Government both the duty and the power to equalise civil partnerships. 

Soon after, in October 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May publicly announced her Government's commitment to extend civil partnerships to all. She said that for the first time ever gay and straight people will have “the same choices in life.” She also 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 a result, we are very close to making civil partnerships for all a reality. 

But now the Government needs to legislate so we can finally celebrate! 

So we're pressing Ms. Mordaunt and the Government to continue to back Conservative MP Tim Loughton’s private members’ bill, which promises to open civil partnerships in 2019. We've already generated extensive cross-party parliamentary support for 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. 

We won’t rest until the Government opens civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples, a measure that is fair and popular, and good for families and children. 

To help us make #equalcivilpartnerships a reality, we ask you to please do the following:

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. Write to your MP and ask them to support Tim Loughton’s private members’ bill, entitled Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill 2017-19, which would give mixed-sex couples the right to a civil partnership, as well as including mother's names on marriage certificates.

3. Please support our efforts by making a financial contribution to the campaign: 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

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