Charlton gay vicar’s protest over marriage ban
PUBLISHED: 16:34 03 November 2010 | UPDATED: 16:45 03 November 2010
Reverend Sharon Ferguson, 52 and partner Franka Strietzel, 49, applied for a civil marriage licence in direct challenge to the UK’s legal ban on same-sex marriage.
The application from the couple, who live in Charlton, was made at Greenwich Town Hall but was refused and the couple now plan to take legal action in a bid to overturn the ban.
Ms Ferguson and her partner of two years held a public protest at Woolwich Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich, on Tuesday and were joined by Peter Tatchell, who is leading the Equal Love campaign to challenge and change current ruling.
Reverend Ferguson, a pastor in the Metropolitan Community Church in Camden, said: “No matter how good civil partnerships are with regard to the legal protections and rights they provide, they are still a separate system that was put together to stop gay and lesbian people from being able to marry.
“Like most people in this world, we were brought up to believe that one day we’d fall in love and get married. This is what we want to do and our sexual orientation should not be an impediment.
“I expected hate mail but it is never nice to receive, especially from people who claim they are Christians.”
As part of the campaign, the couple are the first of eight register office applicants who will seek to overturn the bans and three other couples plan to join them before the end of the year, while four heterosexual couples will apply for civil partnerships.
Mr Tatchell said that as the couples are turned away, they will take legal action, claiming that it is a breach of human rights.
He added: “Our legal team will argue in the courts that the bans on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships are unlawful and unjustified discrimination.
In a democracy, gay and straight couples should be equal before the law. Both marriages and civil partnerships should be open to everyone.”
■ Same sex marriage exists in Canada, Argentina and South Africa, as well as seven European countries, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Iceland.
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