Straight couple demands right to civil partnership

in the UK:

It is part of a legal bid spearheaded by the activist Peter Tatchell called the Equal Love campaign, which aims to redress the imbalance between heterosexual and homosexual partnership rights.

Katherine and Tom will be one of four straight couples who will apply for civil partnerships. As part of the same process, four sets of same-sex couples will attempt to sign up for marriages.

Working on the assumption that all eight will have their bids rejected – an earlier attempt by Katherine and Tom to register for a partnership failed in 2009 – Equal Love plans to launch a legal challenge on the basis of human rights legislation.

Thanks, CR!

18 thoughts on “Straight couple demands right to civil partnership

  1. My hero. LOVE what Tatchell does. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

    If I may be so nosy, I read that he gave up relationships to keep getting parts of his body kicked and battered for the good of the world, for their right to love, while he has nobody.

    Peter, STOP!! You can make an impact without dying for it!

    I hope he finds his soulmate and settles down (not out of politics–just out of the more dangerous types of activism) before some homophobic mob does the unspeakable to him.

    Wouldn’t you philosophers love to see Peter find somebody to grow old with?

  2. Could Jender/others tell those of us who are not in the UK or hip to your legislative scene, how long the UK has had this “separate but pseudo-equal” provision? And is it UK-wide? (As you can guess, I’m from the U.S.A., so we have these state-by-state differences and federal DOMA at the same time.)

    Old saying, though I don’t know which side of my family this is from anymore:

    May you grow old together on one pillow.

  3. profbigk: it was brought in in 2004 (tho wkipedia says first cp wasn’t until dec 2005). here’s wikipedia on it: . it is uk-wide, tho legal details (inheritance, etc) seem to vary slightly by country. it’s strange it’s civil partnership, really: it’s a bit difficult these days to find a briton who gives a toss about marriage as an institution, full stop. so i can’t see who would care enough to insist on a different designation…

  4. For what it’s worth: here in the Netherlands couples can opt for either marriage or civil partnership, and it’s completely irrelevant if they are same-sex or mixed-sex couples. One must admit that there *are* a few cool things about this country…

  5. i wonder, then, if the ‘civil partnership’ you have in the netherlands is like ‘domestic partnership’ in britain? we have that, as well, and one can have that status whether in a hetero or a same-sex relationship. domestic partners, tho, don’t have all the same rights/protections/duties as either married or civilly partnered couples. to my knowledge, the only right that CP couples in the uk don’t currently share in common w married couples is the right to be married in a church, tho this is apparently set to change. so, i suspect that if tatchell & his gang win this battle, one or the other designation will drop out of use, since CP and marriage will be absolutely identical and available to the same people (ie everyone).

  6. Joy-Mari, I’m afraid I don’t understand your question, maybe I didn’t express myself very well. The idea here in the Netherlands is that there are two kinds of partnership contracts, with slightly different legal characteristics: civil partnership and marriage. Couples (gay or straight) are free to choose which one suits them best. Lots of mixed-sex couples opt for the civil partnership, usually because they feel it is slightly less ‘old-fashioned’, or because they don’t want the hassle of getting married (possibly, the bureaucracy involved with the civil partnership contract is less complicated, I don’t know for sure). In other words, all combinations are possible: gay couples who are married, gay couples who have a civil partnership, straight couples who are married and straight couples who have a civil partnership. The choice has nothing to do with being gay or straight.
    (Btw, I’m not sure I like the words ‘straight’ and ‘gay’ in this context, I’d rather use ‘mixed-sex’ and ‘same-sex’ couples, but for brevity…)

  7. extendedlp, as far as I know in terms of rights (health insurance etc.) civil partnerships and marriages are not in any way different. In fact I don’t really know for sure what the exact legal differences are, but I’m sure it doesn’t change much in terms of rights/protections/duties. And it has absolutely nothing to do with being a gay or a straight couple.

  8. @Catarina: how does a civil partnership differ to a marriage? Is the name the only difference or are there other differences?

    I understand that some feel ‘marriage’ is old-fashioned but I’m concerned that there still exists a gulf between the two contracts and wonder whether it wouldn’t make sense to let everyone get ‘married’.

    Is that clearer?

  9. But everyone CAN get married if they want to! It’s totally up to the people involved, people choose civil partnership over marriage if they feel it suits them best, or the other way round. No external constraints.
    (Don’t ask me why one would choose civil partnership, I’m married myself…)

  10. I think what’s being implied by the concern is that the broader, normalizing benefits to gays and lesbians would be compromised by the type of more pluralistic scheme in the Netherlands. From this perspective, better for the state to recognize only one type of committed union–viz., “marriage,” with its traditional connotations–than to allow individuals equal access to greater freedom of choice.

    I’m not going to assess the merits of such a position. I will say that I personally would opt for civil partnership–because I do not want and am generally skeptical about “marriage” and its traditional connotations.

  11. But isn’t it better that the state gives people the choice of which kind of committed union they want to engage in? I still really fail to see why the fact that there are two kinds of union regimes here (in fact there are more, you can also just have a ‘living together’ contract as well) can in any way compromise the benefits to gays and lesbians. And in practice, I don’t think it happens. The Netherlands was the first country to recognize same-sex marriage, and the thing with the civil partnership is totally unrelated. It has never had anything to do with same-sex couples’ rights (as far as I know), these are parallel developments.
    Mind you, I’m not Dutch, but this is definitely one of the things I like about the country where I’ve been living for the last 10 years.

  12. I’m not so sure about the difference in the uk, but here in Canada, the difference was (for same-sex couples)/is (for hetero couples who choose it) about who gets the stuff and the kids if one partner died or was left mentally incapacitated without a will. Health benefits were also effected to varying degrees, province by province.

    In a nutshell, if a lesbian couple decided that one partner would bear a child and share the parenting with her partner, and then died or became incapacitated without a documented POA, the surviving/healthy partner lost her right to the child(ren) and/or inheritance. She would also have no right to make medical decisions on her partner’s behalf. The courts would designate POA and/or property to her immediate nuclear family ie, parents or siblings. The surrogate father/sperm donor was first in line for the child, then the immediate family. If none of those options worked out, the courts did not consider the surviving/stable partner to be the other parent. The child(ren) would have been handed over to child protection agencies.

    Common law arrangements (civil unions) as chosen by hetero couples are basically marriages in form, without the overpriced and annoying Bridezilla affair beforehand. It’s also much easier to separate from a commonlaw partner without the overpriced divorce lawyers and courtroom drama. Depending on the couple’s employers, one or the other partner is often entitled to extended healthcare benefits, maternity/paternity leave, etc. Same sex couples before full marriage was legalized were entitled to little if any of this. Children of hetero commonlaw couples were also treated differently, because of shared DNA. Inheritances for a commonlaw hetero couple depended on whether or not there were any children, and how many squabbling blood relatives stepped in, in the absence of a will, again, with slight differences from province to province.

    So after many Provincial Court appeals, with several couples fighting for more than a decade, the House of Commons finally listened. The coalition headed by Jack Layton and the NDP, starring monogamous, marriage minded gay MP Bill Siksay, backed by Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Quebecois (man what a speaker–he put a whole new spin on the words FRATERNITE! LIBERTE!), and supported by the acting gvt, the Martin Liberals, same sex marriages were legalized here in 2005.

    Another reason I despise the Harper Conservatives. They tried to use Section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to override the legislation. That is a provision that is ONLY used in times of national emergency, to suspend the rights of dangerous individuals who are part of extremist separatist movements, for example. Their attempt to override the rest of the House, and the will of a majority of Canadians was a blatant act of neo-fascism. I have no use for those people.

    From what I understand, our Parliamentary system has some features in common with the system in the UK. There may be some similarities in grievances that same sex couples on the other side of the pond are trying to remedy with their fight for legal marriages. Those differences are usually in the fine print though, and like I said, British legalese is a foreign language to me.

    Catarina, I love the Dutch too. Nude fitness centres, what a concept!!

  13. Civil partnerships for straight couples exist in France, too. One of the candidates for president during the last election was in one.

  14. Thank you for posting this, very interesting; my partner and I also looked into apply for a Civil Partnership a few years ago, but were denied because we are not the same sex as one another.
    Surely in any fair society the rules should be the same for all irrespective of gender (or anything for that matter). i.e. Marriage for all, or Civil Partnership for all – or both.
    Therefore, because we do not believe in the religious act of marriage, we are denied the legal rights of a civil partnership…
    I will watch with interest any outcome of all involved above. Good luck to you.

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