Campaigners launch civil partnership challenge

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The Independent Online

A coalition of straight and gay couples will kick off a radical attempt to overhaul Britain’s marriage laws tomorrow [TUES] in what is being hailed as a final push for marriage equality.

Eight couples are intending to challenge the rules that currently prohibit gay partners from marrying and straight couples from seeking a civil partnership.

Starting tomorrow four straight couples will go to their local registrars to ask for a civil partnership whilst four gay couples will seek permission to marry. The likelihood is that all sixteen will be turned down triggering a lengthy court battle under human rights legislation.

The action is a largely symbolic but could force Britain to catch up with the ten countries around the world that have already fully equalised their marriage laws.

Although same-sex couples were given the right to civil partnerships five years ago – a status that gives them almost all the benefits of marriage – many within the gay and straight community believe it is still discriminatory to run two different systems of marriage based on a person’s sexual orientation.

Meanwhile a growing number of straight couples who are opposed to marriage say they want civil partnerships to be opened to them. Currently only members of the same sex can pursue a civil partnership.

The campaign will kick off tomorrow morning when Reverend Sharon Ferguson goes to her local registrar office with her partner of two years Franka Strietzel to ask for a gay marriage. Over the course of the following month three gay couples and four straight couples will make similar challenges.

Once they are refused they will turn to the courts.