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Couple push for gay marriage recognition
Monday 8 August, 2005 14:15
A lesbian couple are set to challenge the UK’s position on gay marriage this week, calling for an end to the civil partnership “compromise”.
The couple will argue in the High Court that their Canadian marriage, conducted in 2003, should be recognised by the British legal system.
Current proposals for the civil partnership system will expect those who have conducted marriages in countries that allow lesbian and gay nuptials to re-register their relationships in the UK.
However, Celia Kitzinger, 48, and Sue Wilkinson, 51, told The Independent on Sunday that they do not want to re-register and instead want their relationship recognised as full marriage.
"Our relationship is not a civil partnership, it is a marriage,” Kitzinger told the newspaper.
“Any different-sex couple who did what we did would have had their marriage recognised. I feel insulted about being treated differently than a heterosexual couple."
She criticised the Civil Partnership Act as a “compromise”.
“Marriage is the golden seal of a relationship,” she said, “a civil partnership is not imbued with those same symbols".
The couple say that if the High Court rejects their bid, they will take the cause to the European Court of Human Rights.
Gay rights campaigners say they think the issue should be recognised, but civil partnerships are not under threat.
A spokesperson for Stonewall told Gay.com that there are “specific issues” associated with gay marriages being recognised in countries that currently have no plans to implement full marriage legislation.
“Our view is that their marriage should be recognised here,” Alan Wardle said today. “It’s about equality of treatment”.
However, he said it was unlikely the legal bid would have a major impact on the Civil Partnerships Act.
“In practical terms, I don’t think this will make a big difference to the Civil Partnerships,” he said.
Only Belgium, The Netherlands and Spain currently offer full gay marriage, although Canada is set to introduce federal marriage in light of the majority of its provinces legalising gay marriage in recent years.
A rising number of countries across Europe offer civil union packages, which offer legal recognition and many of the rights and responsibilities associated with marriage.
British Court Hears Gay Marriage Case
by Peter Moore 365Gay.com London Bureau
Posted: August 8, 2005 12:01 am ET
(London) A British court this week will hear a case that could result in the UK recognizing the same-sex marriages of couples wed in those countries were they are legal.
Celia Kitzinger, 48, and Sue Wilkinson, 51, were married in British Columbia in 2003 and want that marriage recognized at home. The High Court will hear their case on Friday.
Kitzinger and Wilkinson say that if the court rules against them they will go to the European Court of Human Rights.
Although they will be able to have a civil union which would give them most of the same rights as married couples the women say it is not enough. Civil unions become legal in the UK in December.
"Our relationship is not a civil partnership, it is a marriage, Kitzinger, a sociology professor at York University, told The Independent.
The UK recognizes marriages performed abroad, but not those of same-sex couples
"Any different-sex couple who did what we did would have had their marriage recognized. I feel insulted about being treated differently than a heterosexual couple," said Kitzinger.
LGBT civil rights activist Peter Tatchell, of the group OutRage, said that it would be "outrageous discrimination" if the court ruled against the couple.
"The ban on same-sex marriage in the UK is institutional homophobia," he said. "All other marriages conducted lawfully abroad are recognized here. Why should same-sex marriage be an exception?"
Same-sex marriage is legal in three European countries - The Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain - as well as in Canada. If Kitzinger and Wilkinson win their case hundreds of same-sex couples would be able to travel to any of those countries and have their marriages recognized in Britain.
It is not known how many couples like Kitzinger and Wilkinson have already married abroad.
Couple's challenge may force Britain to accept gay marriages - Independent