Lesbian couple Rev. Sharon Ferguson and
Franka Strietzel plan to challenge the government's unions laws after
they were denied a marriage license on Tuesday.
The two women are the inaugural couple
participating in the Equal Love campaign, in which eight gay or
straight couples will apply for a union they are currently not
Gay couples will request a civil
marriage, and straight couples will seek to enter a civil
partnership. Great Britain recognizes gay and lesbian couples with
civil partnerships, not marriage. Such unions are off-limits for
The couple's application was refused at
a Greenwich register office in London.
“I'm feeling a little despondent,”
Rev. Ferguson, an ordained minister of religion and chief executive
of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said. “Even though we
knew we'd be rejected, it hits hard that we've been denied the right
to get married.”
The couple, which have been together
for over two years, said they want to marry, not enter a civil
partnership, which they consider a separate system.
“Like most people in this world, we
were brought up to believe that one day we'd fall in love and get
married,” Strietzel, a 49-year-old corporate trainer, said. “This
is what we want to do and our sexual orientation should not be an
Ferguson, 52, told the London
Evening Standard that she's received abusive emails over her
participation in the campaign.
“We've had a lot of people supporting
us, but unfortunately I've also received some abusive emails from
people claiming to be Christians who are unhappy with what we are
doing,” she said.
Peter Tatchell, of the gay rights group
UK paper the Guardian
that the campaign aims to overturn bans on gay marriage and
heterosexual civil partnerships.
If officials at British register
offices deny the requests, the group plans to sue the government,
“Don't get me wrong, civil
partnerships are an important advance,” Tatchell
wrote in a recent post at the group's blog. “They remedy many
– though not all – of the injustices that used to be experienced
by lesbian and gay couples. But they are not equality.”
“The homophobia of the ban on
same-sex civil marriage is now compounded by the heterophobia of the
ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships.”
A second couple is expected to apply
for a union they are ineligible for next Tuesday.
A majority of Britons (61%) support the
legalization of gay marriage, a June 2009 poll found.