Couple bid to change rules governing conversion from civil partnerships to marriage

A couple from Devon have presented a 40,000-strong petition to the minister responsible for equal marriage, asking for the rules governing the conversion of civil partnerships into full marriages to be changed.

From December this year couples will be allowed to convert their civil partnership into a marriage, as part of last year’s laws enabling same-sex marriages in England and Wales.

But Campaigners have hit out at the conversion ceremony saying it does not allow couples to conduct a formal ceremony, but rather forces people to undertake a short ceremony at a register office during business hours on Monday to Friday.

Jakki Livesey-van Dorst, 61, from Tiverton, in Devon, has been with 58-year-old Sheila for 22 years and the pair entered a civil partnership in 2006.

Earlier this month they delivered the petition bearing around 40,000 names to Nick Boles, the minister responsible for equal marriage.

The couple said they very upset when they initially heard about the regulations for conversion.

“We could have a party afterwards, but that moment of marriage of equality couldn’t be shared with people who loved us,” said Sheila. “And so we were in despair about this.”

The pair were also concerned that they would not be able to receive an official marriage certificate, but would rather have to receive a ‘certificate of conversion.’

But during their meeting Mr Boles assured them that all couples would receive a full marriage certificate following the conversion.

A Government spokesperson, said: “Our priority is to ensure that couples in a civil partnership will be able convert it into a marriage from this December.

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