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Five years of civil partnerships

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  1. Lynne Featherstone: “As well as benefiting the couples who have registered their unions, the introduction of civil partnerships has helped make a real, positive change in the way society thinks about lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

    “As a government we’re committed to building on this progress, which is why we’re currently looking at what the next steps for civil partnerships could be.”

    What about civil marriage, Lynne?

  2. The obvious next step for Civil Partnerships is to open them to opposite sex couples.

    The obvious next step for civil marriage is to open them to same sex couples.

    Anything less is apartheid.

    Why does Stonewall still support Apartheid?

  3. Michael and I are celebrating five years of being civilised.

  4. Peter & Michael 21 Dec 2010, 7:12pm

    We Too!!

  5. Steve@GayWebHosting 21 Dec 2010, 8:25pm

    I have to say I agree with the above.

    Open civil partnerships to opposite sex couples and Civil marriages to same sex couples.

    Anything less is not equality.

  6. Nobody said you weren’t civilised Michael & Ian, Peter & Michael but your relationships just aren’t given equal recognition with those of opposite sex couples.
    Instead of marriage you have been given access to something that Stonewall describes as “special” and “different” but not in any meaningful way to the extent that it deserves a different name.
    Separate classification for it’s own sake, pure discrimination to appease the prejudiced and bigoted who feel you will taint the institution of marriage if given access to it.

  7. The obvious next step for Civil Partnerships is to totally scrap them and give us EQUAL FCUKING RIGHTS!

  8. Relgious CPs are the next step it seems and not marriage – and I thought it was relgious orgs that were holding us back,….who’s stopping the full jump to marriage equality,,,,?

  9. The next step? Ooh, let me have a think because that’s such a difficult question, isn’t it, Lynne?

    I know – how about treating me like a normal human being and giving me the same access to civil marriage as I would have had if I’d been straight?

  10. To say ‘no you can’t have something’ everyone else is allowed to have means you are ‘unworthy’; participating in anything not the same means you accept being ‘unworthy.’ Shame on all cowards, on both sides of the fence.
    Death before dishonour for all true and honest warriors of equality.

  11. “The obvious next step for Civil Partnerships is to totally scrap them and give us EQUAL FCUKING RIGHTS”


    Just follow the Dutch example and make CP’s and civil marriage available to same sex and opposite sex couples.

    It’s so simple really/

  12. David – I think you’re right, I think CPs should probably continue alongside marriages (assuming that someone in the lib dems pulls their finger out and raises a bill in order us to get it!)

    I’d love us to have flexibilty of chosing what we have, one of my reasons is that we could chose which one is more suitable for us when we move and live abroad and whether we are married/cped to a non UK person… the moment some countries only recognise gay marriages, some have passed laws to recognises only foreing CPs and not marriages eg France will recognise a foregin CP but if you are married to a French person your marriage wouldn’t be recognised at all. In that case not having a CP might be a nightmare scenario. Others have marriages and CPs with differeing rights and you’d probably would want to go with the one with the greater rights, some countries don’t recognise any foreing unions/gay marriages but might have something else you could have but becuase the UK does not allow you to dissolve your CP easily nor issues a certificate which would allow you to do the foreing CP you’re in complete limbo…

    Gays are unique when they come to moving abroad or are married to foreign nationals, It’s compltely different for straight married couples. We need more felxibilty than straights, we also need to be able to switch between the 2 easily(cp or marriage) and also we need to have more fleixible rules on getting out of them if we move abroad…..

    Until we have a consensus on gay unions abroad then the UK should give us the flexibilty of organising our lives ….
    Sorry but we need all options and more flexibilty cause we have more problems than straights….

  13. de Villiers 22 Dec 2010, 12:33am

    > Anything less is apartheid.

    No. It’s just not equal. It’s hardly apartheid.

  14. David: “No! Just follow the Dutch example and make CP’s and civil marriage available to same sex and opposite sex couples. It’s so simple really”

    WHY!!?? A marriage in a registry office is virtually identical to a CP in everything but name.

    CP’s were brought in as a fudged compromise to appease the religious right, and it should never have happened. Allowing straights to have CPs just warps an already mangled concept. Just have “Marriage”, for everyone, anywhere you like.

    That’s even simpler, isn’t it?

  15. In practice neither the Lib Dems nor the Labour Party support marriage equality. The best hope seems to be the excellent by Peter Tatchell and the Equal Love Campaign.

  16. Dave – I think the best hope is the equal love campaign which will hopefully lead to a private bill by the greens/lib dems …

    I think the least hope is waiting for Stonewall to do something or believing in false promises by possibly all the parties just before the next election that they will be the party that will bring in marriage equality…

  17. Peter & Michael 22 Dec 2010, 8:24am

    Your Comment Pavlos, We agree with you! We have always campaigned for Same-Sex Marriage but have had to put up with a sticker plaster attempt to obtain legal rights. Although we have gone through a legal process in affirming our relationship of 27 yrs, legally 5 years, we still face a lot of homophobic practice especially in the NHS. My partner has Cancer and is being treated at Leighton Hospital in Crewe, although we arrive in the morning for treatment, it is hours until we are seen, this we believe to be covert homophobia, we have been informed that is because we live in a homophobic area by an ambulance paramedic. Yes, we have complained, as you imply the Civil Partnership Act is a Sham!!

  18. The next step has to be marriage equality. 2011 will be a year of several new countries introducing marriage equality which will give added momentum.

  19. Peter & Michael,

    I so hope your partner responds well to the medical treatment he’s receiving, best wishes to you both.

    Regarding your civil partnerships you were totally right to make the best of an imperfect deal when you did even if as you say it’s, “a sticking plaster attempt to obtain legal rights”.

  20. we need access to the same civil marriage…having both Cp’s and Civil Maariage its not practical, confusing and a 2 category system!

  21. Tim Hopkins 22 Dec 2010, 11:14am

    Spanner and Daniel, you propose introducing same-sex marriage and abolishing CP. Why take away an option from people? Would you force people already in a CP to convert to a marriage?

    And what about people in a foreign registered partnership? At the moment they (if they’re a same-sex couple) have legal rights if they come to the UK, because they’re treated as in a CP. Abolish CP and those rights will disappear completely.

    But more to the point, we know from surveys that a large minority of mixed-sex and same-sex couples would prefer a CP to a marriage. We should respect that. Forcing some people’s negative view of CP on others who have a positive view of it (especially to the extent of taking away their option of a CP altogether) is not right.

    And if the campaign becomes “introduce same-sex marriage and abolish CP” it will alienate large numbers of LGBT people and will be less likely to succeed.

  22. How would Peter Tatchell be able to take a case against the government without the help of both gay and straight couples. Clearly the four straight couples want civil partnerships and we should support their rights just as they’re supporting us – we should all have the option of marriage or civil partnerships.

    As for Stonewall, I think they’ve done a lot of harm to gay rights.

  23. dave wrote:
    “As for Stonewall, I think they’ve done a lot of harm to gay rights.”

    Ben Summerskill is now becoming known as Stonewall’s handicap.

  24. “Ben Summerskill is now becoming known as Stonewall’s handicap.”

    He’s a useful prop to the Tory-led coalition.

  25. alan gloak 22 Dec 2010, 2:21pm

    Thre gay couples and countless other all took the oppertunity at 11am which was the first time it could be done to seal the knot. I as the then Chairman ofv Somerset County Council contracted a Civil partnership wiyth my partner and love of 42 years. So to all who did then and since every besy wish for a long and happy life together Alan

  26. alan gloak 22 Dec 2010, 2:24pm

    And always spell check before you post

  27. I agree that it should be equal and both marriage and CPs should be available to all.

    My partner and I had our CP nearly 5 years ago and we have been together 13 years. It would have been great to have got married not just a CP. We also did it to give us security in next of kin, inheritance tax etc. My partner is Swedish and gay marriage is legal there however Sweden started with civil unions and moved to marriage after a number of years.

  28. There seems to be a lot of ignorance on here about exactly what Civil Partnership is. British CP is in effect gay marriage in all but name in that it provides EXACTLY the same legal, tax and financial rights as marriage. This is in sharp contrast to countries like Germany and France where their version of Civil Union are very watered down affairs. Upgrading UK CP to marriage would merely be a question of semantics. It is thanks to Stonewall that we have CP rather than the worthless continental-style CU. Allowing straight couples to have CP would enormously devalue Civil Partnership reducing it to a 2nd-class type of marriage rather that what it is now which is gay marriage in all but name.

  29. Mal said “There seems to be a lot of ignorance on here about exactly what Civil Partnership is.”

    In my view it’s the UK version of America’s Defense of Marriage Act DOMA

  30. Tim Hopkins 22 Dec 2010, 6:42pm

    Mal, it’s true that in France, PACS is much weaker in rights than marriage is. But to give two other examples, in the Netherlands and South Africa, both full same-sex marriage, and civil partnership (registered partnership / civil union) are available as choices, and have virtually identical legal effects.

    So there are models in other countries for what people are calling for here: namely marriage and CP available to both mixed-sex and same-sex couples, as choices.

  31. Mal – the EU are already calling for recognition of all civil documents , the UK currently doesn’t recognise different sex CP from Holland , France – Australia , NZ also have different sex CP/unions….etc

    British people, not only foreign people can do these straight CPs. Briiths people marry foreginers etc…

    We do need straight CPs simply to cater for these…It’s unfair to get a French PACS straight couple to divorce in France first in order to get married in th UK for some basic tax, pension , inheritance rights while here…can’t you understand that?

    CPs are already a 2nd class option…We al know that the only reason we have them is becuase we are gay and we were not allowed to get married….How do you think that makes most of us feel, it certainly makes me feel discriminated against and having been pawned off with something second rate…

  32. Mal’s comment looks like a defence of Stonewall’s position: “We seek to retain civil partnerships for lesbian and gay people recognising their special and unique status.”

    Not sure what they mean by that, but it does give cause for concern as to which side they’re on.

  33. For me the issue of marriage equality is about advancing society more than it is about our individual circumstances.

    I agree that CP’s have given us almost equivalent rights & benefits, and I am grateful to those who worked for that as perhaps a necessary step in the journey to full equality.

    The relationship with my partner is not altered by the name it is called by the government. But it diminishes Britain that it continues to feel the need to discriminate one last group in society. To categorise us separtely, to deny that two lgbt people can have a relationship of equal value to “marriage” and to set in the law of the land the dogma of a small number of misguided religious bullies – that god does not approve of homosexuality – is out of date a stain on the UK.

    It is almost 2011 and world society has progressed enormously and continues to do so. More and more countries are progressing to full equality and Britain should not look backwards – one country helps progression in another.

  34. Tim Hopkins: “Spanner and Daniel, you propose introducing same-sex marriage and abolishing CP. Why take away an option from people? Would you force people already in a CP to convert to a marriage?”

    You just don’t get it do you? CP was a flawed *alternative* to marriage, not a second option instead of it.

    What is the point of having two parallel administrative processes running concurrently that are effectively identical except in name?

    It is confusing, expensive to administer, requires every application form in the country to be changed and serves no practical purpose whatsoever.

    Everyone should have the same opportunities to get married, which can be religious or secular, and simply leave it as that.

    And as for upgrading CP’s to marriage, yes, that should be done.
    CP’s should never have been done in the first place and if Stonewall had fought tooth and nail for gay marriage from the beginning instead of copping-out and accepting this crappy second-class version, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now.

  35. Tim Hopkins 23 Dec 2010, 10:49am

    Hi Spanner. I get how CP works and why it was introduced the way it was perfectly well, having been the Equality Network’s lead in working with the Scottish Executive on the details of the Civil Partnership Act in 2004.

    The Equality Network, like Stonewall, fought for CP because we were asked to do so by the majority of LGBT people in Scotland, who realised that we could get CP much sooner than marriage, and that it would be a big step forward and practically of huge importance to couples.

    The answer to your question “What is the point of having two parallel administrative processes running concurrently that are effectively identical except in name?” is that many people see them as different, and there is a demand for both. In the longer term, when both marriage and CP are available regardless of gender, the details of the two might start to diverge more.

    The Netherlands already has both, and like what is proposed in the UK, they are virtually identical in legal effect. One in four same-sex couples and one in nine mixed-sex couples there choose registered partnership instead of marriage. Our surveys indicate that one in four same-sex couples in Scotland would choose CP if both it and marriage were available.

    And also that 40% of those currently in CPs would prefer not to switch to a marriage, which you seem to be saying they should be forced to do.

    And therein seems to lie the key difference between your view and the Equality Network’s. We know from widespread consultation that lots of people (albeit a minority) prefer CP, so keeping both available is what we are campaigning for. You personally think CP is valueless, and apparently you would ignore what others think, dismiss what they would like, and take that option away from them.

  36. Gay Activist Paul Mitchell 27 Dec 2010, 2:17pm

    Congratulations to all those loving same sex couples who have entered into civil partnerships over the past 5 years!!!!

    An upgrade to a better and more dignified “civil marriage” would be nice to all those couples!!!!!!

    However it is just not the same when you say to your partner:

    “Will you civil union/partnership me?”

    It just does not have the same vibe as:

    “Will you marry me?”

    Civil marriage is better and universally recognised, civil unions are deliberately and purposely not recognised – Now it is high-time to allow same sex marriage in both the UK and Australia!!!!

    Support for same sex marriage is 62 percent in both Australia and the UK – it is long overdue in both these countries!!!!

    It is 2010, not 1910!!!!!!

    Civil unions are a second-class status that must go and get upgraded to civil marriage!!!!!

  37. Tim Hopkins: “The answer to your question is that many people see them as different, and there is a demand for both.”

    Then they are bloody idiots.
    What part of “THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE” do they not get?
    It was always just a matter of semantics in order not to piss off the Church. CP’s should never have existed, so why morons want them now, I have no idea. We wanted equality with straights, not some fudge to launch an entirely new ‘alternative’ which bar two minor caveats is identical to the one it is supposed to be replacing.

    If it were a matter of say, having separate religious and secular marriages, I might understand it, but we are squabbling over a pointless bit of titling.

    Marriage is first and foremost a legal bond, and public recognition of a partnership. Above and beyond that, many see it as a matter of faith as well, but that is an optional extra. The way I see it is you are married in the eyes of the law, not the Lord.

    All this CP business has done is to set us at each others throats, confuse the crap out of everyone, and appease the religious right.
    Scrap CP’s NOW, and just have one rule for everybody.

  38. But why would you bother scrapping them now when we already have them…wouldn’t it just be best to leave them there and open them to different sex couples … what’s the extra hassle to this, whats the additional expense?

    Scrapping them now will just piss of people who already have them and like them – scrapping them will leave no option available to the UK to recognise foregin CPs – why would a French PACsed couple want to be called married…

    If they were starting from scratch then I don’t think CPs would have been introduced in their current form but we’re not starting from scratch..Tough titty on the UK govt, they made the mistake of getting CPs and making them identical to marriage but it’s not fair on those people to have to drop a CP now that they are already in one…and it’s not fair on the rest of us (both gay and straight) to be discriminated simply on our sexual orientation…

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