/Mixed-sex couples enter civil partnerships as law changes

Mixed-sex couples enter civil partnerships as law changes

A heterosexual couple who campaigned for mixed-sex civil partnerships have become one of the first couples to tie the knot in a ceremony today after winning a Supreme Court case to change the law. 

This morning Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan registered their ‘more modern’ partnership at Kensington and Chelsea Register. 

They were pictured outside the building looking loved up as their two children stood by their side.

The change in the law will allow couples up and down the country to enter into civil partnerships rather than a marriage following a Supreme Court legal victory last year.

Ms Steinfeld today said that the union has allowed them to celebrate their love in a ‘more modern way’. 

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan have become one of the first same sex couples to register for a civil partnership

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan have become one of the first same sex couples to register for a civil partnership

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan have become one of the first same sex couples to register for a civil partnership

Charles Keidan holds his civil partnership certificate outside Kensington and Chelsea Register Office in King's Rd

Charles Keidan holds his civil partnership certificate outside Kensington and Chelsea Register Office in King's Rd

Charles Keidan holds his civil partnership certificate outside Kensington and Chelsea Register Office in King’s Rd

Sealed with a kiss: The couple stood on the steps outside and shared a kiss after the union

Sealed with a kiss: The couple stood on the steps outside and shared a kiss after the union

Sealed with a kiss: The couple stood on the steps outside and shared a kiss after the union

The couple, who met in 2010 and have two children, said marriage ‘treated women as property’. 

Speaking outside the register office this morning she added: ‘Today, as one decade ends and another dawns, we become civil partners in law.

‘Our personal wish to form a civil partnership was rooted in our desire to formalise our relationship in a more modern way, focus on equality, and mutual respect.

‘So today is a unique, special and personal moment for us, a moment that we’ve been able to affirm our love and commitment to one another in the company of our beautiful children, Eden and Ariel, and close friends.

‘And have that love and commitment given legal recognition in a way that best reflects who we are, what we love and the life we value.’

The couple arrived at Kensington and Chelsea Register this morning with their two children

The couple arrived at Kensington and Chelsea Register this morning with their two children

The couple arrived at Kensington and Chelsea Register this morning with their two children 

The changes come after heterosexual couple Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, pictured outside Hammersmith and Fulham register office, won their legal bid at the Supreme Court in 2018 for the right to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage

The changes come after heterosexual couple Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, pictured outside Hammersmith and Fulham register office, won their legal bid at the Supreme Court in 2018 for the right to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage

The changes come after heterosexual couple Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, pictured outside Hammersmith and Fulham register office, won their legal bid at the Supreme Court in 2018 for the right to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage

The ceremony cost just £46 and the couple had just a handful of guests present.

Ms Steinfeld added: ‘It feels fantastic on a personal and a political level.

‘We are feminists and we see each other as civil partners.

‘We did not want to have to get married, become Mr and Mrs, husband and wife.’

The registrar who united the pair described today’s moment as ‘simple but historic’.

Steven Lord said it was a real honour to be a part of people’s special day ‘especially when they have had to fight for the legal right.’

The registrar of 12 years was also the registrar of the UK’s first same sex marriage at Camden’s register office at a midnight wedding in March 2014.

He said: ‘It was a very simple signing of the register with the couple chosing one of our smallest rooms, but it was a very historic moment.

‘It is a real honour to be doing the first same sex marriage and then one of the first mixed sex couple partnerships.

‘And it is a real honour to be a part of people’s special day, especially when they have had to fight for the legal right.

Julie Thorpe, 61, and Keith Lomax, 70, from near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, will also be having a civil partnership ceremony at a register office in Halifax.

This is while Jake Rayson and Emma Wilson from Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire also want to publicly pledge their love for each other as man and woman – without becoming a married Mr and Mrs. 

Julie and Keith have been living together for most of their 37-year relationship and have three children, will be given similar rights and entitlements as married couples, such as marriage allowance tax relief, exemption from inheritance tax and joint parental responsibility for children born to civil partners. 

Rules were changed to extend civil partnerships – available to same-sex couples since 2005 – to everyone.

Julie Thorpe, 61, and Keith Lomax, 70, from near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, have been living together for most of their 37-year relationship

Julie Thorpe, 61, and Keith Lomax, 70, from near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, have been living together for most of their 37-year relationship

Julie Thorpe, 61, and Keith Lomax, 70, from near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, have been living together for most of their 37-year relationship

What’s the difference between marriage and a civil partnership?

On June 27 2018 a heterosexual couple won the right to have a civil partnership. 

  • A civil partnership involves one part of the couple signing the relevant document to make their union official in the eyes of the law
  • A marriage is formed when a couple exchange spoken words or vows to one another 
  • A civil partnership does not require a ceremony
  • The union gives you the same pension rights as if you are married
  • If one person in the union dies, the other is entitled to some of their pension pot 
  • You have to have been in the partnership for a year before you can become civil partners
  • Dissolving either partnership has to be done by a court 
  • Procedure for dissolution of civil partnership is two stage
  • Instead of decree nisi and decree absolute as in a divorce, there is first a conditional order and a final order
  • In a civil partnership couples would be unable to rely on using adultery as a ground for the relationship being dissolved

But Ms Thorpe said: ‘It won’t change our relationship one jot. It will not make any difference to how we behave towards each other when we get up the next day.

‘We have had a very successful relationship for 37 years and a bit of paper is not going to make any difference to that whatsoever. It does give us some legal protection within that relationship.’ 

Ms Thorpe, a project manager, said that having this equality with married couples under the law, in respect of financial and legal affairs, was the tipping point which helped them decide to tie the knot.

Mr Lomax believes their new official status ‘is not something we are going to think about every day’ after the ceremony, but he says ‘we are very pleased to be part of the event where lots of couples all across the country will be able to join in civil partnership for the first time’.

Human rights lawyer Mr Lomax added: ‘It is a mutual celebration of all of those and also of the people who actually brought the case to court and changed the law in the first place, because that was a very brave and bold thing to do at considerable financial risk.’

Ms Thorpe and Mr Lomax also see their ceremony as a chance to support equality for women.

The couple, who first met when they were journalists on a community newspaper in Leeds, had made a deliberate decision not to get married, because they saw it as traditionally being rooted in patriarchy and religion.

Jake Rayson and Emma Wilson (pictured above) from Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire also want to publicly pledge their love for each other as man and woman - without becoming a married Mr and Mrs

Jake Rayson and Emma Wilson (pictured above) from Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire also want to publicly pledge their love for each other as man and woman - without becoming a married Mr and Mrs

Jake Rayson and Emma Wilson (pictured above) from Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire also want to publicly pledge their love for each other as man and woman – without becoming a married Mr and Mrs

But the new changes mean they can have a ‘meaningful legal relationship in terms of a civil partnership’.

Ms Thorpe added: ‘If you are just living together, you are not automatically treated as being man and wife.

‘There is no such thing as common-law marriage, where you are considered to be married, so things like pensions, tax allowances, being someone’s next-of-kin if you need powers of attorney.

‘You do not have any rights as an unmarried couple, but a civil partnership option now has those legal rights without having to compromise our fairly strongly-held views about marriage.’

Mr Lomax added: ‘It means as much to me as it does to her.

‘As a man, I think it is absolutely crucial that we stand up against this long-standing domination by men over women’s rights, and we need to do something about it.  I am playing my small part in that.’

Their ceremony also coincides with their anniversary, so they also see it as an excuse to have a second New Year’s Eve party.

They said they have not yet made any honeymoon plans, because as they live on the edge of the Pennines, there is no place like home on a crisp winter Yorkshire day.

They are also looking forward to spending time with their loved ones who want to celebrate. 

Jake and Emma also said they wanted to be part of the ‘historic moment’ and will enter into a civil partnership just after the clock strikes midnight tonight.

Emma said: ‘It’s important to us for many reasons, and it will be a special way to commit to each other and celebrate.’ 

The pair met in London and moved to west Wales in 2015 to launch a forest gardening and design business, Forest Garden Wales.

Jake, 52, hosts monthly forest garden tours and gives talks and courses to gardening clubs.

They say a civil partnership allows them the freedom to choose an alternative to marriage which they view as unequal and patriarchal.

‘We don’t believe in the religious and patriarchal structures that underpin matrimony,’ said Jake.

‘We also object to the historical practice of unequal marriage vows, but want our children to have the same legal rights as the children of a married couple.’

The couple are planning a simple ceremony at the registration office joined by their sons Archie and Madoc and two friends as witnesses.

 

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