Gino Meriano on Civil Partnerships
In December of 2005 on a cold brisk morning we saw history made: the Introduction of Civil Partnerships became a reality and thousands of gay couples had their chance to express their love and commitment to their family and friends under the eyes of the law.
Some four years later we still see many Civil Partnerships happen and couples enjoy not only a fantastic day but gain their long awaited legal rights. We have moved so far in our fight for equality from the Civil Partnership Act to the Equality Act, something we should not take lightly.
While some may say it’s still not full equal rights until “marriage” is on the table, we have proved that, with over 30,000 couples signing Civil Partnerships, this was about our commitment to each other as well as legal recognition, which, sometimes challenged, cannot be removed.
Over the past few years we have seen many organisations challenge both the Civil Partnership and Equality Act, from registrars, doctors to religious groups and adoption agencies. While this keeps us on our toes and makes us realise we must never become complacent, we have to trust the system and believe that every case won is another step closer to society simply accepting us as equal. We as a whole are not a threat but simply a community that seeks true equality and the understanding that we have rights.
With such strong opposition across the world we as a community have to stand together. While some countries are already offering some form of commitment we have to look at those who don’t. Our ultimate goal should be the acknowledgement and acceptance of any legal partnership, no matter whether you’re a resident or simply a visitor in any country.
Over the last year Pink Weddings Ltd and the Gay Wedding Show Ltd have been working on launching a similar concept in the state of Arizona. Some believe that it’s “Marriage or nothing”, but our belief is that we have to gain full legal rights as well, and this can be in the similar form of a Civil Partnership. If passed this would give the gay community of Arizona full and equal legal rights as given to opposite sex couples while the battle for full Marriage continues. We are seeing similar projects happening around other states as well. This is vital, especially after over 18,000 couples were left in limbo in California while the decision to finally accept their status was passed. This is completely cruel and unfair and couples should not have to go through the heartache of gaining something they have always wanted to simply have it placed in limbo and finally accepted again.
For the first time in history we have seen a President introduce a Civil Rights page on the White House website to show his commitment to the LGBT community. Only time will tell if President Obama is successful in introducing a federal law with legal rights for same sex couples across all the states of America.
The Gay Wedding Show came about by pure accident. We were being asked by couples to put together a show that would help them arrange their special day without having to worry about talking about their sexuality. In 2004 the UK saw its first Gay wedding Show held in Brighton at the Hilton Metropole and it proved a huge success. Six years later we see the show growing and helping so many couples speak with suppliers and hotels that are proactive towards Civil Partnerships. The show is aimed at covering all aspects of a couple’s day including legal advice, family life, children and even funerals.
In 2009 we see the shows travelling around London, Cardiff, Manchester and Brighton with more planned for 2010. Social and business acceptance is getting there. With the likes of Premier Inn, Ramada Jarvis, Russell Jones and Walker and John Lewis joining the Pink Weddings Group this only proves that mainstream companies are becoming more and more proactive towards helping same-sex couples and building the Civil Partnership market.
Let’s not forget its “Brand New” market with additional income to those who comply with the Civil Partnership and Equality Act, and who are willing to treat same sex couples with the same respect around their day as opposite sex couples. When they do it opens the doors to an estimated additional £10 million a year in the emerging Civil Partnership market.
Numbers have consistently increased year on year for each show and are still growing. Since the start of our shows we’ve collectively helped over 6,000 couples, and this is set to continue to grow in the future:
- 35% are planning their Civil Partnerships in 2009
- 52% are looking forward to a ceremony in 2010
- 12% are leaping ahead of opposite-sex couples to book for 2011
- 03% are competing with the Olympics for their day in 2012
So what does the future hold for Civil Partnerships, with more and more couples planning their day? The most exciting part is to see a new generation growing up knowing that some day they will be able to have their moment, legal rights in place, and a day to remember.