Marriage Equality

Peter Tatchell to address Gay Humanist meeting on Marriage Equality

On Friday 18th March at 7:30 pm Peter Tatchell will be giving a talk entitled “Equal Rights”-are we there yet?” at a meeting at:

Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4LR

This event is organised by the Gay and Lesbian Humanists Association (GALHA) with the official support of Outrage and The Peter Tatchell Foundation. Some of the couples involved in this campaign are expected to be present. We hope to confirm soon that a guest speaker who is a legal expert on gay marriage/partnership law in Europe will also be present.

Derek Lennard (GALHA Events co-ordinator) commented:
“This event will focus on the “Equal Love” campaign which has taken the legal bid for gay marriage and for heterosexual civil partnerships to the European Court of Human Rights. Peter Tatchell will report on the progress of the campaign.”

This event is organised by GALHA with the official support of Outrage and the Peter Tatchell Foundation. Some of the couples involved in this campaign are expected to be present. We hope to confirm soon that a guest speaker who is a legal expert on gay marriage/partnership law in Europe will also be present.

GALHA has consistently supported marriage equality between gay and straight couples since long before this became an issue with mainstream support.

Some humanists strongly support marriage as a social institution. Others see Civil Partnerships as more relevant. However humanists generally agree passionately that both gay and straight couples should have equal access to both marriage and civil partnerships.

For more details of the meeting please see: http://www.galhameetup.com/events/16576277/

Equal Love case goes to European Court

Legal bid for gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships

Eight couples file joint application on 2 February

Professor Robert Wintemute outlines the legal case for equality

Photo call:
9.30am, Wednesday 2 February
Corner Abingdon Street and Great College Street, SW1
(diagonally opposite the House of Lords)

Equal Love – European Court application launch
10.30am, Tuesday 2 February
Committee Room 17
House of Commons

“Eight British couples will formally file a joint legal application to the European Court of Human Rights this Wednesday, 2 February, in a bid to overturn the twin bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships,” announced human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of the LGBT human rights group OutRage!.

The European Court challenge will be formally announced at a meeting in Committee Room 17 at the House of Commons at 10.30am, booked in the name of Caroline Lucas MP. Ms Lucas is the keynote speaker.

Prior to this meeting, there will be a photo call at 9.30am, where the couples filing the European Court challenge will post their application in the red letter box at the corner of Abingdon Street and Great College Street, SW1, diagonally opposite the House of Lords.

Peter Tatchell is coordinator of the Equal Love campaign – www.equalove.org.uk – which seeks to end sexual orientation discrimination in both civil marriage and civil partnership law. (more…)

European Court case launched for Equal Love

But formal filing of Court application postponed

Lord Lester QC keynote speaker at Equal Love launch

Four gay couples and four straight couples today announced their intention to file a joint application to the European Court of Human Rights, in a bid to overturn the twin bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships. They want both institutions opened up to all couples, without discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“The formal filing of the application to the European Court of Human Rights was postponed after Camden register office inadvertently failed, at the last moment, to provide a valid letter of rejection to one of the heterosexual couples who were refused a civil partnership. Such a letter is required evidence, in order to demonstrate to the European Court that the couple suffered discrimination based on their sexual orientation,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the Equal Love campaign, which is organising the legal challenge.

Mr Tatchell opened this morning’s European Court case launch news confernce:

“This postponement is frustrating. It has delayed the formal application but it will not prevent it. Once we have the final letter of refusal, we will go ahead with the application, probably in the second week of January,” he said.

Mr Tatchell told the news conference: “Banning black couples from getting married would provoke national and international condemnation. The prohibition on gay marriages is equally outrageous.” (more…)

Heterosexual couple denied a civil partnership

‘Equal Love’ campaign opposes exclusion of straight couples

Next stage: legal action in the courts in late December

A heterosexual couple, Stephanie Munro and Andrew O’Neill, were refused a civil partnership at Camden Register Office this morning, Wednesday 8 December. The registrar cited the legal ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships as the reason for the refusal.

See these photos of Stephanie and Andrew at Camden register office:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157625430454371/
These photos are free to use, without charge, but please credit Brett Lock.

They now plan to commence legal action in the courts, together with seven other couples. This joint legal appeal is scheduled to be launched on 21 December. (more…)

Heterosexual couple seek civil partnership

Discrimination against straight couples challenged

‘Equal Love’ campaign wants to end sexual orientation discrimination

Wednesday 8 December 2010
10am
Register Office
Camden Town Hall
Judd Street, WC1H 9JE
(off Euston Road, diagonally opposite St Pancras station)

A heterosexual couple, Stephanie Munro and Andrew O’Neill, will challenge the legal ban on straight civil partnerships by filing an application at Camden Register Office this Wednesday 8 December 2010 at 10am.

They are demanding “heterosexual equality.”

The denial of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples is, they say, “unjust, discriminatory and illegal under the Human Rights Act.”

Stephanie Munro and Andrew O’Neill 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 against the refusal in the courts, together with seven other rejected couples. All eight couples will file a joint legal appeal. (more…)

Fourth gay marriage bid rejected

Richard and David will now take legal action

Gay marriage ban violates Human Rights Act, they say

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

David Watters (40) and Richard Hull (49) were turned away on the grounds that UK law states that marriage partners have to be male and female.

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

Photos of David and Richard at Greenwich register office:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157625388419615/
These photos are free to use, without charge, but please credit Chris Houston (more…)

Gay marriage bid by Richard & David

New attempt to end sexual orientation discrimination

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

Gay male couple to apply for civil marriage
10.30am, Tuesday 2 December 2010
Greenwich Register Office
Town Hall
Wellington Street
Woolwich, London SE18 6PW

A gay male couple, David Watters and Richard Hull, 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 (jointly with other rejected couples) to strike down the prohibition on gay marriages. (more…)

Gay marriage bid in Petersfield

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

Lesbian couple to apply for civil marriage

12.45pm, Tuesday 30 November 2010

Petersfield Registration Office
The Old College, College Street
Petersfield, Hampshire, GU31 4AG

A lesbian couple, Colette French and Katie Green, 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.

Katie and Colette’s application will take place at Petersfield Register Office in Hampshire tomorrow, Tuesday 30 November, at 12.45pm.

Colette French (21) is an administrator and Katie Green (21) is a student at of International Relations and Politics at Portsmouth University. Both were born in Portsmouth. They have been together in a relationship for two years.

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

They are the fifth of eight couples to challenge these twin bans, and the third same-sex couple to challenge the ban on gay marriages.

The ‘Equal Love’ campaign is coordinated by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and sponsored by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights organisation OutRage!, with the support of the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund.

“A similar ban on black marriages would provoke an outcry. So why should the ban on gay marriages be tolerated?,” queried Equal Love campaign coordinator, Mr Tatchell.

“The outlawing of same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid – one law for gay couples and another law for heterosexual partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right,” he said.

The Equal Love campaign’s legal advisor is Professor 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. 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),” said Professor Wintemute.

Explaining their bid for marriage equality, Katie Green said:

“We love each other and want to formalise our relationship. Marriage is the universally recognised system of love and commitment. We want to be part of it, to secure the ultimate recognition of our relationship.

“In a democracy, institutions should reflect society and be open to all. Civil partnerships and civil marriages offer almost the same rights and responsibilities. Therefore it seems the only reason that marriage has a closed door policy towards lesbian and gay couples is to denote their inferior status.

“Segregating gay couples into civil partnerships perpetuates homophobic prejudice and discrimination,” she said.

Her partner Colette French added:

“The ban on gay marriage denies us a democratic right. Not allowing us to register our commitment to each other as a marriage reinforces and promotes inequality.

“Love is equal and should be recognised as such. Failure to open up marriage to all couples sends out the message that lesbian and gay couples are not on par with our heterosexual counterparts.

“I have a lasting commitment to Katie and wish to register this through a civil marriage. I feel that civil partnerships were set up as a second class institution to deny us equality with opposite-sex couples,” she said.

Commenting further on the Equal Love campaign, Peter Tatchell noted:

“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.

“In the coming weeks, a total of 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 they are turned away, as has already happened to four couples, they will launch a joint legal action to end sexual orientation discrimination in civil marriage and civil partnership law.

“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. He notes:

“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,” said Prof Wintemute.

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. 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.

Heterosexual equality bid by Ian and Kristin

Straight couple will apply for a civil partnership

Discrimination against opposite-sex couples challenged

Tuesday 23 November 2010

11.15am

Register Office

The Old Council House

Corner of Corn Street and Broad Street

Bristol BS1 1JG

A heterosexual couple, Ian Goggin and Kristin Skarsholt, will challenge the legal ban on straight civil partnerships by filing an application at Bristol Register Office this Tuesday, 23 November, at 11.15am.

They are demanding “heterosexual equality.”

The denial of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples is, they say, “unjust, discriminatory and offensive.”

Mr Goggin and Ms Skarsholt 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 against the refusal in the courts. (more…)

Gay marriage bid rejected

Legal action now planned by Scott & Matthew

Gay marriage ban violates Human Rights Act

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

A gay couple’s application for a civil marriage licence was today refused by Northampton register office.

Matthew Toresen (48) and Scott Maloney (42) applied for a civil marriage, in a direct challenge to the ban on same-sex marriages.

They were turned away on the grounds that UK law since 1973 stipulates that marriage partners have to be male and female.

Responding to the refusal, Matthew Toresen said:

“We’ve been together for 18 years and love each other very much. We want to get married. It means a lot to us. Although this rejection is hurtful, it is just a temporary setback in the long struggle for marriage equality. Next month, together with other couples, we will bring a joint legal action in the courts to challenge the ban on same-sex marriage.”

Scott Maloney added:

“We’re obviously disappointed but the fight goes on. Next stop the courts. We feel confident that the ban on gay marriage will be overturned. It is against the spirit and letter of the Human Rights Act. We are proud to part of this historic campaign for equal rights.”

See more quotes from Matthew and Scott towards the end of this news release.

Photos of Scott and Matthew at Northampton register office:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157625278931203/

These photos are free to use, without charge, but please credit Brett Lock.

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

www.equallove.org.uk

The ‘Equal Love’ campaign is coordinated by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and sponsored by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights organisation OutRage!, with the support of the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund.

“Mathew and Scott are the third of eight couples to challenge these twin bans. The first couple, Rev Sharon Ferguson and Franka Strietzel, had their application for a same-sex marriage turned down at Greenwich register office on 2 November. The second couple, Katherine Doyle and Tom Freeman, were refused a heterosexual civil partnership on 9 November at Islington register office,” said Equal Love coordinator Peter Tatchell.

“In the coming weeks, a total of 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. One couple will make an application every week until 14 December.

“We expect that all eight couples will be turned away. They will then launch a joint legal action to end sexual orientation discrimination in civil marriage and civil partnership law.

“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.

“A similar ban on black marriages would provoke an outcry. So why should the ban on gay marriages be tolerated?

“The bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid – one law for gay couples and another law for heterosexual partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right,” said Mr Tatchell.

The Equal Love campaign’s legal advisor is Professor 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. 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),” said Professor Wintemute.

“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.

Explaining their bid for marriage equality, Mathew Toresen said:

“We’ve been together now for over 18 years. Our love for each other is as valid as anybody else’s. We made a decision not to become civil-partnered because we feel that gay marriage is worth fighting for.

“It seems nonsensical to me that my two brothers are married to the women they love but that Scott and I are denied this social legitimacy and celebration.

“If the state is going to offer options about how relationships are recognised, these options must be available to all. The current situation is absolutely discriminatory, and must end,” he said.

Scott Maloney added:

“Language does matter. Marriage is universally understood as a meaningful commitment. People might say that in time civil partnerships will mean exactly the same. We say: ‘Why wait?’ Opinion polls already show that the majority of people in Britain support same-sex marriage.

“It seems to me morally right that we all should have the same compact with the state. As a gay man, I am expected to pay taxes, obey the laws and, if necessary, defend this country like everybody else. In return, I expect the state to treat me equally”

“The fact that we have separate institutions for gay people and straight people creates an artificial divide, rather than acknowledging that commitment and love are universal,” he said.

Commenting further on the Equal Love campaign, Peter Tatchell noted:

“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.

“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.

“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.