Today’s ruling against civil partnerships for opposite sex couples is a real blow, but I can’t help thinking it will only serve to strengthen the campaign for a change in the law.
Last week Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan argued at the High Court that the Civil Partnership Act 2004, which restricts civil partnerships to same-sex couples, is incompatible with Article 14 (read with Article 8) of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, this morning Mrs. Justice Andrews ruled that the difference does not fall within the ambit of Article 8, and even if it did, then maintaining the difference is justified.
As a couple very much wanting to see Rebecca and Charles succeed, my partner and I are extremely disappointed. We have been together for 24 years, and have no desire to marry. We don’t want the social expectations and traditions that for us at least, come with a marriage. However, we would like to see proper legal recognition of our relationship. It isn’t exactly a big ask.
Indeed, I don’t really see what the government’s problem is. There is the rather weak argument that a civil partnership might undermine the institution of marriage. But those of us seeking this change are not going to get married anyway so that argument is surely nonsense.
Put another way, why should the law afford us as a couple fewer legal rights than those who choose to marry? It doesn’t make sense and it isn’t fair.
According to the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign there are 2.9 million opposite sex couples in this country. In this modern society surely all of us, regardless of our sexual orientation, should be allowed to choose what sort of recognition, if any, we want for our relationships.
We would choose a civil partnership, but the government is stopping us from doing this. So I hope that this ruling gives the campaign further impetus. I hope many more people sign the petition, write to their MP, and give support to those at the forefront of the campaign. Fortunately, there is cross party support for change, so please don’t give up on this important equality issue.