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 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. 

Now we need to turn our legal win into a political win.

The Minister for Women and Equalities, Penny Mordant MP, has already publicly assured the UK’s leading LGBT organisation, Stonewall, that civil partnerships will be retained for same-sex couples.
Therefore, there is only one option to answer the Supreme Court's call for equality: to extend civil partnerships to all.

So we're pressing Ms. Mordaunt to open civil partnerships to all either by introducing fast-track legislation or by supporting Conservative MP Tim Loughton’s private members’ bill. 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. 

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 sign and share this petition, telling the Minister for Women and Equalities that you support opening up civil partnerships to all:

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:

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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