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Campaigners: ‘change civil partnership conversion rules’

A petition from a same-sex couple in Devon has persuaded the government to look again at the rules governing same-sex partnerships.

The law enabling same-sex marriage in England and Wales was passed last year. Couples who were already in a civil partnership at the time the law came into force will be able to to convert their partnership into a marriage from December this year. However current plans do not allow formal ceremonies to mark the occasion and the conversions will only be allowed to take place in registrar’s offices during normal working hours. Same sex couples have complained that the plans have “no heart”, the North Devon Journal reports.

Jakki Livesey-van Dorst, 61 has been with 58-year-old Sheila for 22 years and the pair entered a civil partnership in 2006. The couple, who live in Tiverton, have now presented a 40,000-strong petition to Nick Boles MP, the Minister for Equalities.

Jakki said:

“We found out about the regulations from our local registrar and understood that this [conversion ceremony takes] place as a desk exercise, in an office, Monday to Friday, nine to five, with no one else present. We could have a party afterwards, but that moment of marriage of equality couldn’t be shared with people who loved us.”

She described a subsequent meeting with Mr Bowles as “very positive”, and said she had been assured that the proposed certificate will be a marriage certificate and not a “certificate of conversion”.

A spokesman for the government echoed this, saying:

“We have listened to a range of views on the conversion process and we are looking again at the draft regulations.”

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  1. Andrew says:

    Ceremonies will involve higher fees and that wild not be popular. I know the fee is being waived for a short time, but these people should show some consideration to those who may convert later.

    Nothing to stop them holding a party somewhere else, is there?

  2. Carolyn Jones says:

    Dunham Road Unitarian Chapel has a licence for same-sex weddings and has already married a same-sex couple, they had all the trimmings of a beautiful church weddding with flowers, the organ, stained glass windows etc. One partner lived in the isle of Wight so if Jakki and Sheila can travel to Altrincham, Cheshire, they could have the wedding of their dreams. Contact Rev Danny Crosby at 0161 928 9913. I have tried contacting Jakki through but they do not forward emails.

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