Lesbian couple to appeal “insulting” gay marriage snub

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PinkNews.co.uk Exclusive

A lesbian couple who failed in their bid to have their Canadian marriage recognised in the UK based on their human rights have branded the judgement “insulting” and “punitive.”

Celia Kitzinger and Sue Wilkinson, a British lesbian couple married lawfully in Canada, have announced plans to appeal against this morning’s High Court decision rejecting the validity of their marriage in the UK.

Sir Mark Potter, President of the Family Division of the High Court, said in his ruling, “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, 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 belief that this form of relationship is the one which best encourages stability in a well-regulated society is not a disreputable or outmoded notion based upon ideas of exclusivity, marginalisation, disapproval or discrimination against homosexuals or any other persons who by reason of their sexual orientation or for other reasons prefer to form a same-sex union.”

He added, “Parliament has not called partnerships between persons of the same-sex marriage, not because they are considered inferior to the institution of marriage, but because, as a matter of objective fact and common understanding, as well as under the present definition of marriage in English law … they are indeed different.”

“To accord a same-sex relationship the title and status of marriage would be to fly in the face of the convention as well as to fail to recognise physical reality,” he said.

Ms Wilkinson told PinkNews.co.uk: “We are really disappointed, not just for ourselves but for lesbian and gay people across the country, it’s a sad day.

“We really thought we could win seeing that there’s equal access in four other countries, as well as Massachusetts and soon in South Africa, we thought the tide was turning, maybe it was too soon.”

Ms Kitzinger accused Sir Mark of being out of touch with reality, she told PinkNews.co.uk: “The judge said it’s ok to discriminate against us because it supports the tradition of marriage as a basis for procreation. Marriage is not just made for children, it’s made for love and companionship.”

She highlighted the different forms of families which insist in society including gay parents, and described the judgement as “an outdated and conservative judgement which doesn’t reflect the realities of life”

Ms Kitzinger added: “We didn’t envisage losing on these grounds, it’s insulting that it’s legitimate to discriminate against us.”

The couple plan to appeal but say they may have problems affording it because they have to pay £25,000 of the government’s court costs, Ms Kitzinger called the price a “punitive measure for trying to protect our human rights.”

“We hope people who believe in equality and human rights will want to support us,” Ms Kitzinger added.

Joanne Sawyer from Liberty, who assisted the couple in their case, said: “Celia and Sue have bravely taken the first step on the road to securing equal marriage rights for same sex couples. I have no doubt that today’s judgment will in due course be viewed as being out of step with contemporary values.”

Elizabeth Hicks, a family lawyer at national law firm Irwin Mitchell, said, “As Parliament has so recently visited the whole area of same sex relationships in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and specifically elected not to call them “marriages”, it was highly unlikely that the courts would have been tempted to take it on themselves to extend this further and recognise a same sex “marriage” entered into overseas, as a “marriage” in this jurisdiction.”

A similar case in Israel is awaiting judgement and in Ireland a start date is due to be given on another.