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Last Updated: Monday, 31 July 2006, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Lesbians lose legal marriage bid
Celia Kitzinger and Sue Wilkinson
The couple became "wife and wife" in Vancouver in 2003
A lesbian couple who married legally in Canada have failed in their High Court bid to have their union given full legal status in the UK.

Celia Kitzinger and Sue Wilkinson, of North Yorkshire, were married in Vancouver in 2003.

The pair said the UK's failure to recognise the legality of their vows was a breach of their human rights.

A judge ruled that their union could be recognised as a civil partnership, but not marriage.

President of the High Court Family Division, Sir Mark Potter, said the civil partnership would give the couple the same rights as they would enjoy in marriage.

'Insurmountable hurdle'

Civil partnerships give the same legal rights as marriage on issues such as finances and next of kin.

The University of York and Loughborough University academics had rejected the conversion of their marriage to a civil partnership under the UK's Civil Partnership Act, saying it was not good enough.

It sends out a message that lesbian and gay marriages are inferior
Sue Wilkinson

But the judge told the couple they faced "an insurmountable hurdle" in trying to have a same-sex marriage recognised in English law.

Giving his ruling on Monday he said the majority of people and governments across Europe regarded marriage as an "age-old institution".

Marriage was, by "longstanding definition and acceptance", a formal relationship between a man and a woman primarily designed for producing and rearing children, he said.

He said lasting single-sex relationships were "in no way inferior" and English law did not suggest they were, recognising them under the name of civil partnership.

After the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice Ms Wilkinson said she and Ms Kitzinger were "deeply disappointed" by the judgement, for themselves and for other gay couples.

She said they had been "stripped" of their marriage by a judge who preferred to uphold the "traditional notion" of marriage as between a man and a woman, primarily for producing children.

"It perpetuates discrimination and it sends out a message that lesbian and gay marriages are inferior", she said.

The couple, who say they have spent their life savings on the court battle, are seeking financial help for an appeal.

Ms Wilkinson said: "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."

The judge's reasons for the decision

Q&A: Civil partnership
05 Dec 05 |  UK Politics
Court to decide on lesbian couple
30 Jul 06 |  North Yorkshire
Delay in lesbian wedding decision
09 Jun 06 |  North Yorkshire
Lesbian couple fight legal status
06 Jun 06 |  North Yorkshire
Lesbian couple's high court test
12 Aug 05 |  North Yorkshire


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