Straight couple want to 'marry' in civil partnership to protest boycott on gay church weddings
13th November 2009
A heterosexual couple are set to 'marry' in a civil partnership because they believe a traditional church wedding should not be off limits to homosexuals.
Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, both 25, are determined to become the first straight couple to wed in a civil partnership.
Freeman said: "We think gay people should be able to have a standard marriage and straight people should be able to have a civil partnership."
The pair last night branded marriage 'an apartheid' that segregates straight and gay people.
The civil servants, who live in Holloway, north London, and have been together nearly four years, said they want the same legal rights as a husband and wife.
But they do not want to enter an institution that is closed to homosexuals.
So, in the interests of equality, they are demanding that they be allowed to enter a civil partnership.
Mr Freeman said: 'Ideally we'd have the option of a civil partnership or a marriage, regardless of whether we were straight or gay.
'Effectively marriage and civil partnerships are exactly the same - it's a duplicate law. The effects and legal processes are identical. The rights and obligations are identical.'
He added: 'Civil partnerships are equality in all but name - so why not just have equality?
'The answer is there are conservative people who feel offended by having gay people in their precious institution. It's quite an insulting compromise.'
The couple are set to give 'notice of their intention to form a civil partnership' at Islington Town Hall on November 24 after duping council registrars by only giving their initials and surnames. The venue is one of the most popular in Britain for gay 'marriages'.
'We're the first straight couple in the country who have tried to get a civil partnership,' said Mr Freeman.
'We've been together for almost four years and we're totally committed to each other.
'We are at the stage other couples might usually get married but we feel the only course of action is to campaign for desegregation.'
Miss Doyle, who claims their parents have been 'very supportive' of their stance, said: 'It's an apartheid of sorts.
'Getting married would condone that and the whole idea of common law partnerships is an urban myth. They don't exist, so we are excluded from the legal benefits.
'For Tom and I a civil partnership is the obvious alternative but we can't have it.'
The couple are backed by gay and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell as well as the wider gay community.
Mr Tatchell said: 'The ban on heterosexual civil partnerships is heterophobic. It is discriminatory and offensive.
'I want to see it ended so that straight couples like Tom and Katherine can have the option of a civil partnership. I applaud their challenge to this unjust law.'
Islington Council is already at the centre of a storm after threatening to sack Christian marriage registrar Lillian Ladele because she refused to carry out civil partnerships.
The case is currently at the High Court.
Nearby Newington Green Unitarian Church has banned full wedding ceremonies until the law is changed to allow gay couples the same religious marriage rights as heterosexual couples.
The Reverend Andy Pakula said: 'I'm impressed with their commitment and support them completely. Any way that we can get equality has got to be a good thing.'