The Government recently proposed a new process for converting civil partnerships into full-blown marriages. Since then, the proposal has come under fire from the same same-sex couples it involves who say it has ‘no heart’ and who compare the process to getting a new tax disc.
The British government passed laws which enabled same-sex couples to get married in England and Wales last year, but complications have arisen which mean that it wasn’t immediately possible for couples who had civil partnerships to switch to full married status.
Although plans are now underway to allow couples to convert their partnership into a marriage from the end of this year, couples who are applying now have to present themselves at a register office, as opposed to the wider choice of approved premises for marriages for different-sex couples or those undertaking a civil partnership. The partnership conversion process also requires same-sex couples to be issued a ‘certificate of conversion’ as a legal notification of the change. The certificate is the equivalent of the traditional ‘marriage certificate’ and even though the two are legally equivalent, the conversion certificate has been criticised as ‘heartless’ by many same-sex couples.
Jakki entered into a civil partnership with her partner Sheila last year, and has called for change to the ‘conversion ceremonies’.
Jakki hopes to hold her wedding to Sheila on Saturday 18th July next year, which will be the 9th anniversary of her civil partnership, but under current legislation this won’t be possible as the office will be closed.
“A certificate of conversion sounds as if I’ve changed my car to LPG, the process has as much humanity as taxing the car, and it has to be miles away from my home at a register office, on Monday to Friday business hours.” Jakki said.
Jakki added: “We have spoken to the registrar who makes it clear that the conversion process is a desk-based exercise, with just us and the registrar – there is no provision for supporters or celebration. Sure, we will be legally married, but the restrictions on the process exclude all emotion, and forbid celebration at that precious moment of marriage and equality. It is as if we are an embarrassment to the establishment. They offered us a step towards equality, we took it – now they have to grudgingly let us have the full deal”
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