Lesbians lose High Court marriage bid

Monday, July 31, 2006

Today's hearing took place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Two lesbians who married lawfully in Canada have failed in their High Court bid to have their matrimony accepted under law in the United Kingdom.

Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger married in Vancouver in 2003, and they now live together in North Yorkshire. But they say the UK’s failure to accept the legality of their vows infringes a fundamental human right; under Article twelve of the Human Rights Act, it is stated that everyone has a right to marry.

But Sir Mark Potter, the President of the High Court Family Division, ruled today that their union should be accepted as a civil partnership instead of marriage. He emphasised that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman designed for creating and bringing children up: “It is apparent that the majority of people, or at least of governments, not only in England but Europe-wide, regard marriage as an age-old institution, valued and valuable, respectable and respected, and as a means not only of encouraging monogamy but also the procreation of children and their development and nurture in a family unit in which both maternal and paternal influences are available in respect of their nurture and upbringing.”

The judge also said same-sex laws in England are in no way inferior as they are recognised as civil partnerships which give gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married couples on many issues. However, the two women say civil partnerships are not good enough for gay couples.

After the hearing, Ms Wilkinson said she and Ms Kitzinger were deeply disappointed by the judge’s decision. She said they had been stripped of their marriage by a judge who believes the traditional notion of marriage as being between a man and a woman so they can create children. “It perpetuates discrimination and it sends out a message that lesbian and gay marriages are inferior,” she commented. The couple are now seeking financial help so they can mount an appeal. “This judgement will not stand the test of time. We are looking forward to the day when there is full equality of marriage, not just for us but for all same-sex couples,” Ms Wilkinson added.