Equal Love

Heterosexual couple denied equality

Civil partnership ban defied, but licence refused

‘Equal Love’ campaign opposes exclusion of straight couples

A heterosexual couple, Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, were refused a civil partnership at Islington Register Office in London this morning, Tuesday, 9 November. The registrar cited the legal ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships as the reason for the refusal.

Photos of Tom and Katherine at Islington register office:
These photos are free to use, without charge, but please credit Brett Lock.

Commenting on the refusal, Katherine Doyle (26, postgraduate student) said:

“The refusal was expected but it is still very frustrating. We are committed to each other and really want a civil partnership. We don’t like the patriarchal traditions of marriage and don’t want to be called husband and wife. Tom and I see each other as equal partners. That’s why civil partnerships appeal to us. They are more egalitarian and better reflect our relationship,” she said.

Her partner Tom Freeman (26, administrator) added:

“Despite being rejected, we’ll carry on the fight. We are referring the letter of refusal to our legal advisor, Professor Robert Wintemute of Kings College London. Together with other gay and straight couples, later this year we plan to file a joint action in the courts to overturn the twin bans on heterosexual civil partnerships and gay civil marriages. We believe these bans violate Articles 8, 12 and 14 of the Human Rights Act and will be eventually overturned by the courts.

“The denial of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples perpetuates inequality. It is discriminatory and illegal,” he said.

Tom and Katherine’s application today is part of the new Equal Love campaign, which seeks the repeal of the twin prohibitions on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships.

The Equal Love campaign is organised by the gay rights group OutRage! and coordinated by the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

“We seek heterosexual equality. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. There should be no legal discrimination based on sexual orientation,” said Mr Tatchell.

“Denying heterosexual couples the right to have a civil partnership is discriminatory and offensive. We want to see it ended, so that straight couples like Tom and Katherine can have the option of a civil partnership.

“The bans on same-sex civil marriages and on opposite-sex civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid. There is one law for straight couples and another law for gay partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

“We see the Equal Love campaign as a historic quest for justice; morally equivalent to the campaigns to overturn the bans on inter-racial marriage in apartheid South Africa and the Deep South of the USA.

“From 2 November onwards, eight couples will file applications at register offices in London, Northampton, Bristol and Havant. Four same-sex couples will apply for civil marriages and four heterosexual couples will apply for civil partnerships. One couple will make an application every week until 14 December. Once all the applications have been refused, the eight couples will consult their lawyer and agree a joint legal action.

“Our aim is to secure equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law. We want both systems open to all couples, gay and straight, so that everyone has a free and equal choice.

“Just as gay couples should be able to marry, civil partnerships should be available to straight couples.

“Same-sex marriage is the growing trend all over the world. It exists in Canada, Argentina and South Africa, as well as seven of our European neighbours: Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. We want marriage equality in Britain too.

“Political support for ending the ban on gay marriage is growing. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and former Conservative Party Vice-Chair, Margot James MP, have both come out in favour of allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry in a registry office, on the same terms as heterosexual partners.

“This view is also endorsed by the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, and by the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.

“Both the Liberal Democrat and the Green party conferences have voted overwhelmingly in favour of ending the bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships,” noted Mr Tatchell.

Public attitudes have shifted strongly in favour of allowing gay couples to marry. A Populus opinion poll in June 2009 found that 61% of the public believe that: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.” Only 33% disagreed.

Additional quotes from Tom and Katherine

Katherine Doyle (26, postgraduate student) said:

“We have been together for four and a half years and would like to formalise our relationship. Because we feel alienated from the patriarchal traditions of marriage, we would prefer to have a civil partnership. As a mixed-sex couple, we are banned by law from doing so. By filing an application for civil partnership, we are seeking to challenge this discriminatory law.

“Our decision is also motivated by the fact that we object to the way same-sex couples are prohibited from getting married. If we got married we would be colluding with the segregation that exists in relationship law between gay civil partnerships and straight civil marriages. We don’t want to take advantage of civil marriage when it is an option that is denied to our lesbian and gay friends,” she said.

Tom Freeman (26, administrator) said:

“We want to secure official status for our relationship in a way that supports the call for complete equality and is free of the negative, sexist connotations of marriage.

“We’d prefer a civil partnership. But if we cannot have one, we won’t get married.

“On a point of principle, we’ll remain unmarried until opposite-sex couples can have a civil partnership and same-sex couples can have a civil marriage.

“We are taking this stand against discrimination and in support of legal equality for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

“The ‘separate but equal’ system which segregates couples according to their sexuality is not equal at all. All loving couples should have access to the same institutions, regardless of sexuality,” he said.

Heterosexual equality bid backed by OutRage!

Straight couple defy civil partnership ban

Exclusion of opposite-sex couples challenged

Tuesday 9 November 2010
10.15am
Register Office
Islington Town Hall
Upper Street, London N1 2UD

A heterosexual couple, Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, will challenge the ban on straight civil partnerships by filing an application at Islington Register Office in London this Tuesday, 9 November at 10.15am.

They want “heterosexual equality.”

The denial of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples is, they say, “discriminatory and perpetuates legal inequality.”

Doyle and Freeman expect to be turned down by the registrar but they plan to get the rejection in writing, with view to taking legal advice and appealing the refusal in the courts.

The couple’s bid is part of the new Equal Love campaign, which is seeking to overturn the twin prohibitions on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships.

www.equallove.org.uk

The Equal Love campaign is organised by the gay rights group OutRage! and coordinated by the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Mr Tatchell will join Katherine and Tom this Tuesday, 9 November, when they apply for a civil partnership.

Mr Tatchell commented:

“We seek heterosexual equality. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. There should be no legal discrimination. The twin bans on same-sex civil marriages and on opposite-sex civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid. There is one law for straight couples and another law for gay partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

“Denying heterosexual couples the right to have a civil partnership is discriminatory and offensive. I want to see it ended, so that straight couples like Tom and Katherine can have the option of a civil partnership. I applaud their challenge to this unjust legislation,” he said.

Tom Freeman (26, administrator) said:

“We want to secure official status for our relationship in a way that supports the call for complete equality and is free of the negative, sexist connotations of marriage.

“We’d prefer a civil partnership. But if we cannot have one, we won’t get married.

“On a point of principle, we’ll remain unmarried until opposite-sex couples can have a civil partnership and same-sex couples can have a civil marriage.

“We are taking this stand against discrimination and in support of legal equality for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

“The ‘separate but equal’ system which segregates couples according to their sexuality is not equal at all. All loving couples should have access to the same institutions, regardless of sexuality. There should be parity of access,” he said.

Outlining why she joined the Equal Love and campaign and why she is seeking to reverse the ban on heterosexual civil partnerships, Katherine Doyle (26, postgraduate student) added:

“We have been together for four and a half years and would like to formalise our relationship. Because we feel alienated from the patriarchal traditions of marriage, we would prefer to have a civil partnership. As a mixed-sex couple, we are banned by law from doing so. By filing an application for civil partnership, we are seeking to challenge this discriminatory law.

“Our decision is also motivated by the fact that we object to the way same-sex couples are prohibited from getting married. If we got married we would be colluding with the segregation that exists in relationship law between gay civil partnerships and straight civil marriages. We don’t want to take advantage of civil marriage when it is an option that is denied to our lesbian and gay friends,” she said.

Gay marriage bid rejected

Lesbian couple will now take legal action: Gay marriage ban violates Human Rights Act, they say

‘Equal Love’ campaign seeks gay marriages & straight civil partnerships

A lesbian couple’s application for a civil marriage licence was today refused by Greenwich register office in south-east London.

Rev Sharon Ferguson (52) and her partner Franka Strietzel (49) were turned away on the grounds that UK law stipulates that marriage partners have to be male and female.

Sharon and Franka now plan to challenge this restriction in the courts, arguing that the ban on same-sex marriage violates Articles 14 (protection against discrimination), 12 (the right to marry) and 8 (the right to respect for family life) of the Human Rights Act.

[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157625296775932″]

Rev Ferguson is an ordained minister of religion and chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. Franka Strietzel is a corporate trainer.

Sharon and Franka’s civil marriage application today is part of the new ‘Equal Love’ campaign coordinated by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and sponsored by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights organisation OutRage!

The Equal Love campaign seeks to end the prohibition on same-sex marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships.

“We see the Equal Love campaign as a historic quest for justice; morally equivalent to the campaigns to overturn the bans on inter-racial marriage in apartheid South Africa and the Deep South of the USA,” said Equal Love coordinator Peter Tatchell.

Rev Ferguson added:

“Later this year, we plan to bring a joint legal action with seven other gay and straight couples, in a bid to overturn the twin bans on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships,” she said.

“We’re optimistic. Our legal case is winnable. Equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law is now supported by most of the public and by the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green leaders, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Caroline Lucas.

“I’m feeling a little despondent. Even though we knew we’d be rejected, it hits hard that we’ve been denied the right to get married.

“We were treated very seriously and with great dignity by the register office staff. They told us they had to follow the law, which prohibits members of the same sex from marrying each other.

“We will now focus on supporting the other couples and pursuing the Equal Love legal case to overturn the ban,” said Rev Ferguson.

“Our legal challenge is being organised by one of the world’s leading human rights experts, Professor Robert Wintemute of Kings College London. We are hopeful that we will eventually win marriage equality,” added her partner, Franka Strietzel.

“There is no longer any justification for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage and different-sex couples from civil partnership. It’s like having separate drinking fountains or beaches for different racial groups, even though the water is the same. The only function of the twin bans is to mark lesbian and gay people as inferior to heterosexual people,” said Professor Wintemute.

“By excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage, and different-sex couples from civil partnership, the UK Government is discriminating on the ground of sexual orientation, contrary to the Human Rights Act,” he said.

Rev Ferguson added:

“Franka and I have been together for over two years. We recently started talking about having our commitment to each other recognised.

“No matter how good civil partnerships are with regard to the legal protections and rights they provide, they are still a separate system that was put together to stop gay and lesbian people from being able to marry.

“Like most people in this world, we were brought up to believe that one day we’d fall in love and get married. This is what we want to do and our sexual orientation should not be an impediment,” she said.

Starting on Tuesday 2 November, eight couples will file applications at their local register offices. Four same-sex couples will apply for civil marriages and four heterosexual couples will apply for civil partnerships. Every week until 14 December, one couple will make an application.

“If the couples are turned away, we plan to take legal action. Denying them equal treatment is contrary to the Human Rights Act,” said Peter Tatchell.

“Our legal team will argue in the courts that the bans on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships are unlawful and unjustified discrimination.

“In a democracy, gay and straight couples should be equal before the law. Both civil marriages and civil partnerships should be open to everyone without discrimination.

“Our aim is to secure equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law. We want both systems open to all couples, gay and straight, so that everyone has a free and equal choice.

“Denying couples the right to civil marriage and civil partnership on the basis of their sexual orientation is wrong and has to end.

“In a democratic society, we should all be equal before the law.

“The ban on same-sex civil marriage and on opposite-sex civil partnerships is a form of sexual apartheid – one law for gay couples and another law for heterosexual partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

“Just as gay couples should be able to marry, civil partnerships should be available to straight couples.

“Same-sex marriage is the growing trend all over the world. It exists in Canada, Argentina and South Africa, as well as seven of our European neighbours: Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. We want marriage equality in Britain too.

“Political support for ending the ban on gay marriage is growing. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and former Conservative Party Vice-Chair, Margot James MP, have both come out in favour of allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry in a registry office, on the same terms as heterosexual partners.

“This view is also endorsed by the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, and by the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.

“Both the Liberal Democrat and the Green party conferences have voted overwhelmingly in favour of ending the bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships,” noted Mr Tatchell.

Public attitudes have shifted strongly in favour of allowing gay couples to marry. A Populus opinion poll in June 2009 found that 61% of the public believe that: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.” Only 33% disagreed.

Sharon & Franka apply for a marriage license

Rev Sharon Ferguson (52) and her partner Franka (49), applied for a civil marriage licence at Greenwich Register Office at the Town Hall in Woolwich on Tuesday 2 November in a direct challenge to the UK’s legal ban on same-sex marriage. Their application was refused. The couple plan to take legal action in the courts to strike down the prohibition on gay marriages.

Photo credit: Chris Houston, OutRage!

Gay marriage bid by lesbian couple

New attempt to end sexual orientation discrimination

‘Equal Love’ campaign seeks gay marriages & straight civil partnerships

11.15am, Tuesday 2 November 2010

Greenwich Register Office
Town Hall
Wellington Street
Woolwich, London SE18 6PW

A lesbian couple, Rev Sharon Ferguson (52) and her partner Franka (49), will apply for a civil marriage licence, in a direct challenge to the UK’s legal ban on same-sex marriage.

If their application is refused, the couple plan to take legal action in the courts to strike down the prohibition on gay marriages.

Sharon’s and Franka’s marriage application will take place at Greenwich Register Office at the Town Hall in Woolwich tomorrow, Tuesday 2 November, at 11.15am.

Their application is the first of eight register office applications which will seek to overturn the twin bans on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships.

This new ‘Equal Love’campaign is coordinated by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and sponsored by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights organisation OutRage!

The campaign’s legal advisor is Professor Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at Kings College London.

Rev Ferguson is an ordained minister of religion and chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. Her partner is a corporate trainer.

Rev Ferguson said:

“Franka and I have been together for over two years. We recently started talking about having our commitment to each other recognised.

“Although I fully appreciate the benefits of civil partnerships, I don’t feel they are appropriate for us. As chief executive of LGCM, and also a pastor in the Metropolitan Community Church, I spend my life campaigning for justice and equality.

“No matter how good civil partnerships are with regard to the legal protections and rights they provide, they are still a separate system that was put together to stop gay and lesbian people from being able to marry.

“Like most people in this world, we were brought up to believe that one day we’d fall in love and get married. This is what we want to do and our sexual orientation should not be an impediment,” she said.

Photos of Sharon and Franka (they are the main photo) here:

“We see the Equal Love campaign as a quest for justice; morally equivalent to the campaigns to overturn the bans on inter-racial marriage in apartheid South Africa and the Deep South of the USA,” said Equal Love coordinator Peter Tatchell.

“Starting on Tuesday 2 November, eight couples will file applications at their local register offices. Four same-sex couples will apply for civil marriages and four heterosexual couples will apply for civil partnerships. Every week until 14 December, one couple will make an application.

“If the couples are turned away, we plan to take legal action. Denying them equal treatment is contrary to the Human Rights Act.

“Our legal team will argue in the courts that the bans on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships are unlawful and unjustified discrimination.

“In a democracy, gay and straight couples should be equal before the law. Both civil marriages and civil partnerships should be open to everyone without discrimination,” he said.

The Equal Love campaign’s legal case is being prepared by Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at Kings College London.

“By excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage, and different-sex couples from civil partnership, the UK Government is discriminating on the ground of sexual orientation, contrary to the Human Rights Act,” said Professor Wintemute.

“The twin bans violate Article 14 (protection against discrimination), Article 12 (the right to marry) and Article 8 (the right to respect for family life).

“The rights attached to civil marriage and civil partnership are identical, especially with regard to adoption of children, donor insemination, and surrogacy. There is no longer any justification for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage and different-sex couples from civil partnership. It’s like having separate drinking fountains or beaches for different racial groups, even though the water is the same. The only function of the twin bans is to mark lesbian and gay people as inferior to heterosexual people,” he said.

Mr Tatchell added:

“Our aim is to secure equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law. We want both systems open to all couples, gay and straight, so that everyone has a free and equal choice.

“Denying couples the right to civil marriage and civil partnership on the basis of their sexual orientation is wrong and has to end.

“In a democratic society, we should all be equal before the law.

“The ban on same-sex civil marriage and on opposite-sex civil partnerships is a form of sexual apartheid – one law for gay couples and another law for heterosexual partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

“Just as gay couples should be able to marry, civil partnerships should be available to straight couples.

“Same-sex marriage is the growing trend all over the world. It exists in Canada, Argentina and South Africa, as well as seven of our European neighbours: Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. We want marriage equality in Britain too.

“Political support for ending the ban on gay marriage is growing. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and former Conservative Party Vice-Chair, Margot James MP, have both come out in favour of allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry in a registry office, on the same terms as heterosexual partners.

“This view is also endorsed by the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, and by the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.

“Both the Liberal Democrat and the Green party conferences have voted overwhelmingly in favour of ending the bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships,” noted Mr Tatchell.

Public attitudes have shifted strongly in favour of allowing gay couples to marry. A Populus opinion poll in June 2009 found that 61% of the public believe that: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.” Only 33% disagreed.

Stonewall finally supports marriage equality

Stonewall has finally decided it does support same-sex marriage after all.

Peter Tatchell of OutRage! said:

“This is good news, at last. Thanks to everyone who lobbied Stonewall to change its policy.

“We are pleased that Stonewall has finally joined other LGBT organisations in seeking to overturn the homophobic ban on same-sex civil marriage. We can now move forward together, united in our commitment to marriage equality.

“It is, however, very disappointing that Stonewall is still refusing to oppose the ban on heterosexual civil partnerships. This stance is de facto support for discrimination. It looks uncaring and sectarian. It doesn’t help build the LGBT-straight alliance that we need to win full equality.

“OutRage! is pressing ahead with its Equal Love campaign. Our aim is to end sexual orientation discrimination in both civil marriage and civil partnership law. We oppose the ban on heterosexual civil partnerships just as strongly as we oppose the ban on gay civil marriage.”

‘Equal Love’ Launch Press Briefing

Equal Love campaign launch — London 26 October 2010.
OutRage! legal bid to overturn the twin bans on same-sex civil marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships. Equality for all, gay and straight.

The Equal Love campaign

To find out more about OutRage!’s Equal Love campaign, visit www.equallove.org.uk

‘Equal Love’ campaign launched

Legal bid to end sexual orientation discrimination

Britain’s new Equal Love campaign was launched today with a news conference in London.

It aims to challenge the twin bans on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships, with eight couples filing applications at register offices and then, when they are refused, bringing a joint legal action in the courts to secure a change in the law.

Today’s news conference was chaired by the Equal Love campaign coordinator, Peter Tatchell, and included the campaign’s legal advisor, Professor Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at Kings College London.

Also in attendance were four of the sixteen future plaintiffs: the lead same-sex couple, Rev Sharon Ferguson and her partner Franka, and the lead heterosexual couple, Katherine Doyle and Tom Freeman.

[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157625246622534″]

The Equal Love campaign is being organised by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights organisation OutRage!

“Starting on Tuesday 2 November, eight couples will file applications at their local register offices. Four same-sex couples will apply for civil marriages and four heterosexual couples will apply for civil partnerships. Every week until 14 December, one couple will make an application,” said Peter Tatchell.

“If the couples are turned away, as we expect they will be, we plan to take legal action. Denying them equal treatment is contrary to the Human Rights Act.

“Our legal team will argue in the courts that the bans on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships are an unlawful and unjustified discrimination.

“In a democracy, gay and straight couples should be equal before the law. Both civil marriages and civil partnerships should be open to everyone without discrimination,” he said.

Rev Sharon Ferguson, who is an ordained minister of religion and chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said:

“Franka and I have been together for over two years and we recently started talking about having our commitment to each other recognised.

“Although I fully appreciate the benefits of civil partnerships, I don’t feel they are appropriate for us. As chief executive of LGCM, and also a pastor in the Metropolitan Community Church, I spend my life campaigning for justice and equality. The simple fact is that no matter how good civil partnerships are with regard to the legal protections and rights they provide, they are still a separate system that was put together to stop gay and lesbian people from being able to marry.

“Like most people in this world, we were brought up to believe that one day we’d fall in love and get married. This is what we want to do and our sexual orientation should not be an impediment,” she said.

Katherine Doyle added:

“We have been together for nearly five years and would like to formalise our relationship. Because we feel alienated from the patriarchal traditions of marriage, we would prefer to have a civil partnership. As a mixed-sex couple, we are banned by law from doing so. By filing an application for civil partnership, we are seeking to challenge this discriminatory law.

“Our decision is also motivated by the fact that we object to the way same-sex couples are prohibited from getting married. If we got married we would be colluding with the segregation that exists in matrimonial law between gay civil partnerships and straight civil
marriages. We don’t want to take advantage of civil marriage when it is an option that is denied to our lesbian and gay friends,” she said.

The Equal Love campaign’s legal case is being prepared by Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at Kings College London.

“If the couples are refused, we will mount a legal challenge. These bans violate the UK’s Human Rights Act and are open to challenge in the courts,” said Professor Wintemute.

“By excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage, and different-sex couples from civil partnership, the UK Government is discriminating on the ground of sexual orientation, contrary to the Human Rights Act. Specifically, the twin bans violate Article 14 (protection against discrimination), Article 12 (the right to marry) and Article 8 (the right to respect for family life).

“The rights attached to civil marriage and civil partnership are identical, especially with regard to adoption of children, donor insemination, and surrogacy. There is no longer any justification for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage and different-sex couples from civil partnership. It’s like having separate drinking fountains or beaches for different racial groups, even though the water is the same! The only function of the twin bans is to mark lesbian and gay people as inferior to heterosexual people,” he said.

Mr Tatchell added:

“Our aim is to secure equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law. We want both systems open to all couples, gay and straight, so that everyone has a free and equal choice.

“Denying couples the right to civil marriage and civil partnership on the basis of their sexual orientation is wrong and has to end.

“In a democratic society, we should all be equal before the law. The ban on same-sex civil marriage and on opposite-sex civil partnerships is a form of sexual apartheid – one law for gay couples and another law for heterosexual partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

“Just as gay couples should be able to marry, civil partnerships should be available to straight couples.

“Same-sex marriage is the growing trend all over the world. It exists in Canada, Argentina and South Africa, as well as seven of our European neighbours: Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. Why can’t we have marriage equality in Britain too?

“Political support for ending the ban on gay marriage is growing. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and former Conservative Party Vice-Chair, Margot James MP, have both come out in favour of allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry in a registry office, on the same terms as heterosexual partners.

“This view is also endorsed by the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, and by the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.

“Both the Liberal Democrat and the Green party conferences have voted overwhelmingly in favour of ending the bans on gay civil marriage and heterosexual civil partnerships,” noted Mr Tatchell.

Public attitudes have shifted strongly in favour of allowing gay couples to marry. A Populus opinion poll in June 2009 found that 61% of the public believe that: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.” Only 33% disagreed.

Videos of the news conference can be viewed here:
http://www.youtube.com/user/OutRageLondon

Legal challenge to ban on gay marriage & straight civil partnerships

Gay couples will file applications for civil marriages

Heterosexual couples will apply for civil partnerships

Legal bid to end sexual orientation discrimination

NEWS CONFERENCE
Equal Love campaign
10.15am, Tuesday 26 October 2010
Halfway to Heaven pub, 7 Duncannon Street, London WC2N 4JF (off Trafalgar Square).

See map here:

This news conference will be chaired by Peter Tatchell, and the Equal Love campaign’s legal expert, Professor Robert Wintemute, and two of the eight plaintiff couples

A simultaneous legal challenge to the twin bans on gay marriage and on heterosexual civil partnerships is being organised by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans human rights organisation OutRage!

“Starting on 2 November, eight couples will file applications at their local register offices. Four same-sex couples will apply for civil marriages and four heterosexual couples will apply for civil partnerships. Every week, through to 14 December, one couple will make an application,” said Equal Love campaign coordinator, Peter Tatchell, of OutRage!

“If the couples are turned away, we plan to take legal action. We will argue in the courts that in a democratic society gay and straight couples should be equal before the law. Both civil marriages and civil partnerships should be open to everyone without discrimination,” he said.

The lead same-sex couple, Rev Sharon Ferguson and Franka Strietzel, and the lead heterosexual couple, Katherine Doyle and Tom Freeman, will attend and speak at the news conference.

The Equal Love campaign’s legal case is being prepared by Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at Kings College London.

“If the couples are refused, we will mount a legal challenge. These bans violate the UK’s Human Rights Act and are open to challenge in the courts,” said Professor Wintemute.

“By excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage, and different-sex couples from civil partnership, the UK Government is discriminating on the ground of sexual orientation, contrary to the Human Rights Act. Specifically, the twin bans violate Article 14 (protection against discrimination), Article 12 (the right to marry) and Article 8 (the right to respect for family life).

“The rights attached to civil marriage and civil partnership are identical, especially with regard to adoption of children, donor insemination, and surrogacy. There is no longer any justification for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage and different-sex couples from civil partnership. It’s like having separate drinking fountains or beaches for different racial groups, even though the water is the same! The only function of the twin bans is to mark lesbian and gay people as inferior to heterosexual people,” he said.

Mr Tatchell added:

“Our aim is to secure equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law. We want both systems open to all couples, gay and straight, so that everyone has a free and equal choice.

“Denying couples the right to civil marriage and civil partnership on the basis of their sexual orientation is wrong and has to end.

“In a democratic society, we should all be equal before the law. The ban on same-sex civil marriage and on opposite-sex civil partnerships is a form of sexual apartheid – one law for gay couples and another law for heterosexual partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

“Just as gay couples should be able to marry, civil partnerships should be available to straight couples.

“Same-sex marriage is the growing trend all over the world. It exists in Canada, Argentina and South Africa, as well as seven of our European neighbours: Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. Why can’t we have marriage equality in Britain too?

“Political support for ending the ban on gay marriage is growing. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and former Conservative Party Vice-Chair, Margot James MP, have both come out in favour of allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry in a registry office, on the same terms as heterosexual partners.

“This view is also endorsed by the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, and by the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.

“Both the Liberal Democrat and the Green party conferences have voted overwhelmingly in favour of ending the twin bans on gay civil marriage and heterosexual civil partnerships,” noted Mr Tatchell.

Public attitudes have shifted strongly in favour of allowing gay couples to marry. A Populus opinion poll in June 2009 found that 61% of the public believe that: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.” Only 33% disagreed.