Other Sex Civil Partnerships / Unions

Freeman and DoyleFrom the Islington Gazette:

A HETEROSEXUAL Islington couple want to become the first in Britain to have a “gay” civil partnership – because they do not believe in marriage.

Civil servants Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, both 25, of North Road, Holloway, do not agree with marriage because they say it is “an apartheid” that segregates straight and gay people.

The couple, who have been together for nearly four years, want the same legal rights as a husband and wife – but they do not want to enter an institution that is closed to homosexuals. So, in the interests of equality, they are demanding that they be allowed to enter a civil partnership.

Mr Freeman said: “Ideally we’d have the option of a civil partnership or a marriage, regardless of whether we were straight or gay. Effectively marriage and civil partnerships are exactly the same – it’s a duplicate law. The effects and legal processes are identical. The rights and obligations are identical. Civil partnerships are equality in all but name – so why not just have equality?

“The answer is there are conservative people who feel offended by having gay people in their precious institution. It’s quite an insulting compromise.”

On November 24 the couple are set to give “notice of their intention to form a civil partnership” at Islington Town Hall, in Upper Street, after duping council registrars by only giving their initials.

It’s an interesting PR stunt, but that’s all it is as when they turn up at the registry office they’ll be politely turned away. Seems to me that their argument is also convoluted, since when they say “Effectively marriage and civil partnerships are exactly the same”, that rationally means that they should have no objection with entering into marriage or a civil partnership. Less of a reasoned case and more of a photo op methinks.

41 Comments on “Other Sex Civil Partnerships / Unions

  1. They were on the PM show with Eddie Mair this evening, on Radio 4. You can listen again via the iPlayer, in case it’s of any interest.

    Kind regards, etc.

  2. Haven’t had a chance to listen to ‘PM’ but wonder if Eddie Mair put your point to them Peter? Seems to me you’re right “that they should have no objection with entering into marriage or a civil partnership”.

    And in my usual more pedantic vein…:
    “Effectively marriage and civil partnerships are exactly the same – it’s a duplicate law. The effects and legal processes are identical. The rights and obligations are identical”, Mr Freeman says. Very nearly but not quite – it isn’t a duplicate law, because, as CPs are designed for same-sex couples, there is no provision for adultery. Legally I’m told adultery requires there to have been penis-in-vagina sex – so adultery isn’t a CP-breaker. There may be a couple of other minor differences; I’m not sure. Anyway, my point is just to wonder whether the Freemans haven’t misunderstood the law…?

    in friendship, Blair

      • *blushing slightly*

        …well, neither was I, but the info is from a talk at Greenbelt in 2005 on civil partnerships. The legal info was given by Jacqueline Humphreys – and in March 06 the Church Times ran an article by her:


        The 8th and 9th paragraphs are most relevant, perhaps, but the whole piece looks like a good guide to me.

        Anyway, these details / my pedantry aside, I still think that Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle’s argument (which echoes Peter Tatchell’s, interestingly) does not work and that they’re some way off making their case that having marriage for mixed-sex couples and CPs for same-sex, amounts to an “apartheid”.

        The change worth lobbying for, I’d suggest, is to allow CPs to be done on religious premises – a change in the law which Quakers have committed to campaigning for. I’ve a little pet theory as to why there’s a ban on CPs in religious buildings (apart from the fact that they closely echo civil marriage). If CPs could have been done on religious premises from the start, wouldn’t this have meant that the C of E, as the established church, would have been obliged to offer them, as it is with marriage? If so, my guess was that the government could see that that might just cause a ruckus within the church, so, wanting to give same-sex couples rights (& rites) as soon as it could without possible obstructions, the govt brought in CPs as a strictly non-religious thing. Peter do you – or does anyone – think that could be remotely valid?

        (I’m braced for the cries of nooo!!)

        in friendship, Blair

        • I think that the reason why CPs are not blessed in the Church of England is that any sexual component to them (and the proposed blessing of them) would run counter to the Church’s doctrine of marriage.

          • Hi Peter,

            understood – though as I’m sure you’re aware one or two C of E places do bless CPs and are public about so doing (thinking of Jeffrey Heskins’ book, Unheard voices ).

            But to be honest that wasn’t the point I was making – am wondering about the way the govt designed the legislation and sought to get it passed, and the fact that, whatever the situation ‘on the ground’ re blessing CPs, it’s illegal to contract one on religious premises.

            in friendship, Blair

        • Hello Jill,

          have skimmed over Cranmer’s post and about half the comments. Call me humourless but I’m not sure about “excellent and hilarious suggestions” – several folk seem to be ignorant of the fact that you cannot marry if you are already in a civil partnership, not can you contract a civil partnership if you are currently married. Also, dissolving a CP is not instant so if anyone actually did form one to avoid tax it’d take a while to get out of it.

          Now where did I put my sense of humour….

          Must say I can’t help getting rather cynical over the suggestion that civil partnerships should have been available to (say) siblings also. I don’t remember any voices being raised to suggest that there should be some form of legal union for siblings, before the Civil Partnership Act appeared. Seems to my uncharitable eyes that some were casting around for ways to prevent CPs being gay marriage in all but name.

          in friendship, Blair

        • “You will see that a number of commenters think it is a good idea for straight people of the same sex to form a CP to avoid taxes…etc. etc.”

          So what does this demonstrate? That the possibility of abusing the Civil Partnership legislation means that civil partnerships are a bad idea? Hardly. Traditional marriage can be, and often has been, abused in the same way. Never heard of the phrase “marriage of convenience”? There’s never been anything to stop either straight people or gay people of opposite sexes from forming a bogus but perfectly legal marriage in order to avoid taxes, or for all sorts of other reasons. Remember the episode in “Coronation Street” years ago, when that Spanish guy revealed to Mavis that he wanted to marry her simply to get round immigration restrictions? At the end of World War II how many British women became GI brides just so that they could emigrate to America?

          Sorry, Jill. Poppycock.

  3. Blair – Civil Partnership Sibling Amendment


    •During the passage of the Civil Partnership Bill, an amendment was put forward by Edward Leigh MP to extend the Bill to siblings who have lived together for twelve years or more. The amendment was defeated in the House of Commons by 74 votes to 381.

    •An earlier amendment, initially passed in the House of Lords, extended the Bill to include close family members as well as siblings. However, when it became clear that such a broad extension would be unlikely to succeed in the House of Commons, the narrower amendment was put forward by Edward Leigh MP.

    Key points

    •The Civil Partnership Act is unfair.1 The scheme only applies to gays and lesbians, whilst other house-sharers are excluded.

    •The major argument advanced by the Government in favour of civil partnerships is that there were ‘hard cases’ which needed to be remedied – individual cases of disadvantage suffered by homosexual couples in comparison to married couples.

    •Yet for every ‘hard case’ cited for a homosexual couple, there will be almost 60 times as many cases which apply to people in ordinary families – a daughter living with her elderly mother, a grandson living with his infirm grandfather, a friend who looks after a disabled person on a long-term basis.2

    •For example, two elderly sisters live together for twenty years. One dies, and the other can’t afford the inheritance tax and has to sell the home they shared. A gay couple register their partnership. One dies after only a year and the other inherits a large property, tax-free.

    •Over 80% of the public believed the Civil Partnership Bill should have been fairer to ordinary families according to an opinion poll.3 Even the Government and supporters of the Bill were forced to admit that civil partnerships created injustice for ordinary family members.

    •If the Government was really concerned about injustice it would have helped ordinary families as well. The fact that it was content to ignore them proves the Civil Partnership Act was really about rewarding sexual relationships that are morally wrong.

    (From The Christian Institute)

    • Hello again Jill,

      thanks for the response. I would just say again, “I don’t remember any voices being raised to suggest that there should be some form of legal union for siblings, before the Civil Partnership Act appeared” – nothing you’ve quoted contradicts that. If the lack of civil partnerships (or something similar) for family members was such an injustice, where was the campaign about the issue before the Civil Partnership Act was thought of?

      I’d only quibble with one of the bullet points you’ve quoted. “Yet for every ‘hard case’ cited for a homosexual couple, there will be almost 60 times as many cases which apply to people in ordinary families …” – as far as I can see this can only refer to inheritance tax (?). Another aspect of the ‘hard case’ for gay couples, was that one partner could be, say, seriously ill in hospital and the other could be prevented from seeing him/her as s/he would not be next of kin. The CP Act remedied this – obviously that didn’t apply to family members.

      The same bullet point mentions “a friend who looks after a disabled person on a long-term basis”. I’m not sure how widening the scope of civil partnerships would have helped here and would be interested to see how or if the Christian Institute footnoted that point. I’d underline that I am no expert on the benefits system, but wonder whether, if a carer were to contract a CP with the person they care for, their benefits wouldn’t go down? – as they would be treated as a couple rather than 2 individuals. The lack of support, recognition and benefits for unpaid carers (ie not folk like me for whom it’s a paid job) is a scandal, but I don’t think that’s relevant to the civil partnership issue.

      Went off on one a bit there….

      in friendship, Blair

  4. Less of a reasoned case and more of a photo op methinks.

    Says the curate “dismayed by Advent chat show.” It’s a shame there’s not much call for scribes and Pharisees nowadays. You’d be so well suited for the job.

      • Peter

        I hadn’t seen any innuendos in your poem, which I thought was a beautiful gift for an absent wife and son. So I just followed the link you out here and I was really shocked to see the strength of venom expressed towards you on ‘Mad Priest’s’ website both by him and some of his contributors. Being out of the UK, I hadn’t realised that some people really seem to have it in for you. I’m sorry that you have to deal with so much hate.

        • Well, Philip, if you disseminate lies that contribute towards hatred towards, and physical attacks on, a whole section of society, eventually somebody is going to hate you in return. Fair does, eh, old chap?

              • So the substance of your argument is that I’m a liar because you say I am, but you can’t document a single instance of me lying? Wow Jonathan, not only have you demonstrated your pastoral heart, but now we are in awe at the depth of your debating skills. Is there no end to your brilliance as a priest?

                • the lies he refers to, that I think a lot of us have seen, are big ones:
                  (1) mis-characterizing our relationships,
                  (2) the sweeping statements about the lived experience of being gay, and, most of all,
                  (3) twisting God’s word so much that it appears that he rejects those whom he loves. The self loathing is so intense, and probably so painful that you externalize it on an unacceptable “other.”

                  That last one falls under the “better to have a millstone around the neck…”

                  But, fear not, Pharisees can always reassure themselves about their personal holiness and sanctity. You’ll get right to work on that, I’m sure.

    • You really have absolutely no substance to what you’re saying do you Jonathan if your response to being asked to provide one bit of documentation for your claims is to engage in ad hominem. Go on – reply again because with each comment you just dig deeper and deeper.

      • I’ve read “Screwtape” and, thus forewarned, I’m certainly not going to get into a debate with you.
        Anyway, I know that if I’m too specific you’ll go telling tales out of class. Which is a bit gay, if you ask me.

        • Come on Jonathan. You’ve accused me publicly of lying practically every day, but you’re not prepared to document one single one of those lies. When challenged on this you resort to ad hominem. How can you possibly expect us to take you seriously?

            • Jonathan,

              Just more ad hominem isn’t it. Any time you want to actually document the lies you claim I tell, it would make a refreshing change.

              But please, until that moment do keep digging away.

            • Reasoning with firmly set psychologial defense mechanisms is near useless, hence Jonathan’s wisdom in not engaging in the debate.

              You have your own special version of what you imagine to be the Gospel. It involves projecting the unacceptable self-loathing out on an external other. You can mischaracterize and twist anything in the service of that. The result, though, is a twisting of God’s love and open glorious acceptance of his children, straight and gay, into a gospel of rejection and hate.

              That is the lie. The big lie.

              You are still a Pharisee, Peter. A lying one who twists God’s gospel and stands in the way of God’s love for others. May God forgive you.

    • Blair

      >>wonders how come the sudden shift in this thread<< Dunno, beats me too mate.

      'Mad Priest' started it all off by calling Peter a Pharisee (weren't those the guys in the NT that were 'zealous for God'?) and then we got all these cryptic references to 'Screwtape' (must be something out of 'Torchwood'). Dennis then joined in the fun by accusing Peter of 'unacceptable self-loathing'. Peter seems to have done something really awful that these guys know about and we don't, 'cause they won't say what it is.

      But it can't simply be stating that gay sex is a sin and the Bible prohibits it, can it? Because that's just biblical orthodoxy that is accepted by the vast majority of the church worldwide. And Peter is just exercising free speech, isn't he? And, I mean, NO-ONE is against free speech are they, right? It's like milk and cookies and applepie!

      Unless ….

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