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A date to celebrate: thanks everyone

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campaign successes, marriage certificates, mothers' names, civil partnerships, different sex partners, civil marriage, #ADateToCelebrateTwo campaign victories to celebrate.

After a petition set up by Ailsa Burkimsher Sadler calling for mothers’ names to be on marriage certificates alongside fathers’ names raised 70,000 signatures – in 2014 – David Cameron announced that he had instructed the Home Office to address the inequality on marriage certificates and allow mothers’ name to appear alongside fathers.

Caroline Criado-Perez also backed the petition; she pointed out that the law as it stood meant that the children of single mothers and lesbian couples were effectively being told: “Sorry, your parents do not exist.”

It then took until 2018 for the Home Office to “sign off” the proposals to change the details on certificates after a campaign led by Caroline Spelman, MP, in the House of Commons and the Rev Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, in the House of Lords.

It has now become law, as part of ‘The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill’: mothers’ names are to be on marriage certificates, alongside fathers’ names.

The second victory is for the civil partnership campaigners.

Since the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act (2004), same sex couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships.

And the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 legalised same sex marriages in England and Wales from March 2014. Scotland, operating under devolved law, also allows both same sex marriage and civil partnerships. Meaning that same sex couples have the option to choose the best legal framework for their own relationship.

Mixed sex couples, however, when they wanted to formalise their relationship and enjoy the security and benefits of a legal partnership, only had the choice of marriage.

The Equal Civil Partnerships campaigners worked to change the law so that all couples could choose the type of framework they wanted for their relationship and be protected legally and financially in the eyes of the law.

They pursued a dual strategy through the British legal system where a Supreme Court victory declared the discrepancy discriminatory and through parliament via a Private Members Bill.

That Private Members Bill, brought by Tim Loughton MP, received final Parliamentary approval in the House of Commons on 15 March 2018.

It then received Royal Assent on 26 March, as part of ‘The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill’ and has now become a law – and the first mixed-sex civil partnerships in England and Wales will be possible at the end of this year.

The Bill was taken through parliament by Tim Loughton MP in the Commons and Baroness Fiona Hodgson in the Lords.

Loughton said: “This has been a long and hard-fought journey, but will be well worth it for the recognition and stability it will provide many thousands of mixed-sex couples. I am grateful to the work done by the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign and all others who have supported us in securing this vitally important piece of legislation.”

Baroness Hodgson added: “It was a privilege to steer this Bill through the Lords. I have had a huge mailbag from people who are desperate to have a civil partnership and I hope it changes many people’s lives for the better.”

And Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who have played a vital part in the campaign – taking the government through the courts to their final win in the Supreme Court in June 2018  – said: “We are relieved that the government finally listened to the Supreme Court and to the thousands of other couples like us who want the option of forming a civil partnership.

“Against the headwinds of Brexit, it is a real tribute to what civic action, political commitment and most of all hard graft over many years can bring about. We thank everyone involved in this team effort.”

Martin Loat, Chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, said: “We have battled long and hard to achieve this victory.

“The government now plans a consultation to assess just how equal civil partnerships for all are going to work. The Equal Civil Partnership campaign will play a full part in this and will continue to speak up for our supporters.”

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