Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This Queer Little Planet: Eight UK Couples Sue for Marriage and Civil Partnership Equality

British LGBT Rights Activist, Peter Tatchell
Today marks the 5th anniversary of legal civil partnerships in Great Britain and eight couples, four gay and four straight, are celebrating the historic occasion by launching a lawsuit calling for reform of British marriage and civil partnership laws. As it currently stands, only gay and lesbian Brits can have a civil partnership and only straight couples can get married.

Confused? British LGBT rights activist Peter Tatchell explains via press release, "Now it is time to go one step further by overturning the ban on gay civil marriages (ie. marriages in register offices). Some same-sex couples do not want marriage. They are happy with civil partnerships. We respect their feelings. But other lesbian and gay couples would like to get married. It is the universally recognised system of love and commitment."

Tatchell adds, "We sympathise with heterosexual couples who don't like the patriarchal history of marriage and the idea of being called husband and wife. They would rather have a civil partnership instead. The law should give them that option."

Tatchell, the coordinator of the Equal Love campaign, explained how this all came about:
"Over the last two months, four same-sex couples were refused marriage licenses at register offices in Greenwich, Northampton and Petersfield. During the same period, four heterosexual couples were turned away when they applied for civil partnerships in Islington, Camden, Bristol and Aldershot," added Mr Tatchell.

"All eight couples received letters of refusal from their register offices. We are using these rejection letters to challenge the exclusion of gay couples from civil marriage and the denial of civil partnerships to straight couples. Since there is no difference in the rights and responsibilities involved in gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships, there is no justification for having two mutually exclusive and discriminatory systems."
Tatchell held a press conference this morning where he said, “Since there is no difference in the rights and responsibilities involved in gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships, there is no point or justification in having two mutually exclusive and discriminatory systems. Outlawing black marriages would provoke uproar. The prohibition on gay marriages should provoke similar outrage.

You might wonder what all the fuss is about if the two systems offer identical benefits to the Brits. Consider this. Last year veteran British pop star Sir Elton John and his civil partner David Furnish were denied the ability to adopt an HIV positive baby in the Ukraine because the Ukrainian government only allows adoption by married couples. The Ukraine does not recognized the couple's civil partnership. 

Marriage is marriage. For straight couples, a marriage performed anywhere in the world is recognized everywhere in the world. We still have a long way to go.

UPDATE: Just as I was finishing up with this post, news broke via The Independent, that the lawsuit has been delayed due to a clerical error:
To lodge the application, all couples need paperwork proving they have applied for a marriage or civil service licence and been rejected.

Because Camden Council mistook heterosexual couple Stephanie Munro and Andrew O'Neil as a gay couple, the "Equal Love" campaign to test gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships has been stalled until at least next month, co-ordinator Peter Tatchell said.
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep comments relevant and civil. Comments attacking other people will be deleted.

Subscribe in a reader