Straight couple denied civil partnership in London
A heterosexual couple was refused a civil partnership at London's Camden Register Office on Dec. 8.
The registrar cited the legal ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships as the reason for the refusal.
Stephanie Munro and Andrew O'Neill plan to sue the government, along with three other straight couples who want to enter into civil partnerships and four gay couples who want to get married.
It's part of a new activist campaign dubbed Equal Love, coordinated by veteran gay activist Peter Tatchell.
"We feel a sense of injustice," said Munro. "It doesn't seem fair that in a democracy we can be denied a civil partnership just because we happen to be heterosexual. Andrew and I love each other very much. We don't like marriage because of its patriarchal history. I don't want to be called a wife and Andrew doesn't husband me. We are equal partners and the language of civil partnerships better reflects the character of our relationship."
Said O'Neill: "Being turned away was sad. It makes us understand what gay couples go through when they are denied the right to marry. It's really quite insulting and offensive. We don't feel comfortable with the institution of marriage. But even if we were happy with it, we would not want to get married while gay couples are denied the right to marry."
According to Tatchell: "Just as the ban on gay civil marriages is wrong, so too is the ban on heterosexual civil partnerships. ... Everyone should be equal before the law. Denying heterosexual couples the right to have a civil partnership is obnoxious and discriminatory."
An attorney for the activists, Robert Wintemute, said the marriage and civil-partnership laws violate three sections of the United Kingdom's Human Rights Act concerned with protection against discrimination, the right to respect for family life and the right to marry.
"The rights attached to civil marriage and civil partnership are identical, especially with regard to adoption of children, donor insemination and surrogacy," Wintemute said. "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."