The lesbian couple whose legal Canadian marriage was declared invalid by the High Court earlier this year has given up its appeal due to a lack of funds but vows to fight on through campaigns.
University professors Sue Wilkinson, 52, and Celia Kitzinger, 50, will not be taking their fight to the Court of Appeal because of their current court bill of £25,000 which covers the government’s legal costs for the case.
The case was heard by Sir Mark Potter, President of the Family Division of the High Court, in July. He ruled that their union could only be recognised as a civil partnership. He said the UK government has worked to remove “legal, social and economic disadvantages suffered by homosexuals” through civil partnerships.
The judge recognised that it was unfair but said gay marriage undermines the traditional definition of the institution,
The couple were outraged and accused him of being out of touch with reality, they gad planned to appeal but have now found the costs too high.
Ms Wilkinson said they will not be giving up hope and will instead campaign for equal marriage rights, “This financial penalty is clearly intended to deter us from seeking justice, but our marriage is too important to simply give up. We will continue to fight for equal marriage rights for ourselves and for other same-sex couples.”
The couple’s Equal Marriage Rights website at www.equalmarriagerights.org has so far documented the couple’s own legal case and is now appealing for donations to help them meet the government’s bill.
Ms Kitzinger and Ms Wilkinson plan to expand the campaign to support other same-sex couples bringing legal cases, and to use the political process to advocate for marriage equality.
Speaking on behalf of Liberty, the human rights organisation which backed the couple’s High Court challenge, Joanne Sawyer said: “Celia and Sue bravely took the first step on the road to securing equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. I have no doubt that the High Court judgment will in due course be viewed as being out of step with contemporary values, and wish them well in their future campaign.”
Peter Tatchell of the lesbian and gay rights group OutRage! described the couple as pioneers, “We thank Sue and Celia for mounting an important, historic legal challenge to the ban on same-sex marriage. They are true pioneers in the battle for lesbian and gay equality.
“Although they were not successful in the courts and lack the funds to appeal, Sue and Celia have blazed a trail that others will follow. When the battle for marriage equality is finally won, people will look back and salute Sue and Celia for their pioneering contribution.”
Speaking to PinkNews.co.uk at the time of their case, Ms Kitzinger said her plight was one of many, “There are other cases, we are just the first, we will win eventually.”
A lesbian couple in Ireland are currently pursuing a case at the Dublin High Court to have their Canadian marriage recognised.