Another gay couple barred from marriage in Greenwich

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A second gay couple have been barred from applying to marry in Greenwich, south-east London.

David Watters and Richard Hull’s rejection follows the Rev Sharon Ferguson and her partner Franka Streitzel being denied a marriage at Woolwich registry office last month.

Mr Watters and Mr Hull were told by staff this morning that as two men, they could not register a marriage.

The refusal was expected and the couple, although with seven other gay and straight couples, will now challenge the UK’s twin bans on gay marriage and straight civil partnerships in the courts.

Mr Watters, 40, who is a personal development consultant and author of Never blend in: The legacy of Harvey Milk, said earlier this week that current law creates “two classes of citizens: inferior and superior”.

He said: “Equality under the law is a fundamental human right. Prohibiting same-sex marriage excludes gay people from enjoying the same legal status as heterosexuals. This amounts to unfair treatment for gay couples like ourselves. We want to embrace the commitment and responsibilities that come with marriage. The law won’t allow us to do so.

“Civil partnerships are often not accepted socially as being on a par with civil or religious marriages. This perpetuates a continued ‘us and them’ attitude; reinforcing, rather than challenging, the inferiority of gay relationships.

“Since the legal rights and responsibilities of civil partnerships are almost identical to those of civil marriage, why have two separate systems?”

Mr Hull, 49, who is a catering manager and chef, added: “It is a fundamental human right to marry the person of one’s choice. I would like to exercise my right to marry David. I don’t want to be his civil partner.

“The truth is that desire, domesticity, intimacy and love make no gender distinction. My desire to marry David is equal in depth and validity to the desires of any heterosexual person.”

The challenge against current marriage and civil partnership laws is called the Equal Love campaign and has been organised by gay rights activist Peter Tatchell.

The legal case is being prepared by Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at Kings College London.

Mr Tatchell said: “Our legal team will argue in the courts that the bans on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships are unlawful and unjustified discrimination.

“In a democracy, gay and straight couples should be equal before the law. Both civil marriages and civil partnerships should be open to everyone without discrimination,” he said.