Heterosexual equality bid by Bristol Couple refused

A heterosexual couple, Ian Goggin and Kristin Skarsholt, attempted to challenge a legal ban on straight civil partnerships by filing an application at Bristol Register Office on Tuesday, 23 November.

The couple were the fourth of eight gay and straight couples to attempt to register a marriage or civil partnership as part of the Equal Love campaign., were turned down by the registrar but they plan to take legal advice and appeal against the refusal in the courts.

Ms Skarsholt and Mr Goggin are both Bristol-based students. Kristin (22) is studying Arabic and Ian (21) is studying music technology. She was born in Norway and he in Ireland. They’ve been in a relationship together for two years.

The couple’s bid is part of the new Equal Love campaign, organised by the gay rights group OutRage! and coordinated by the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, which is seeking to overturn the twin prohibitions on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships. Mr Tatchell will join the couple when apply for a civil partnership.

Mr Tatchell commented: “We seek heterosexual equality. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. There should be no legal discrimination. The twin bans on gay civil marriages and on heterosexual civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid. There is one law for straight couples and another law for gay partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Mr Goggin said “We want a civil partnership for two reasons. It better reflects our relationship, and we can’t condone the baseless discrimination between civil marriages and civil partnerships. We seek the security and stability of a legal commitment, without the necessity to be associated with the language and culture of marriage. I don’t identify with this culture, and cannot think of Kristin as my ‘wife’. She is my partner, we work together, sharing responsibilities.”

“A key reason we won’t get married is that we don’t want to take part in an institution that excludes our homosexual friends. We feel a fair society shouldn’t countenance this kind of hurtful sexual orientation discrimination and hope this campaign can go some way towards challenging such discrimination.” he added.

Ms Skarsholt said: “We are disappointed that we were not able to have our relationship legally recognised. Ian and I genuinely wish to secure legal recognition as civil partners. We are determined to fight through the courts to end the legal segregation that continues to keep straight and gay couples in separate institutions.