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‘The whole culture of marriage is sexist’: Camden couple celebrate civil partnership

Mixed-sex civil partnership ceremonies begin

14 January, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Simon Castle and Sophie Talbot sign the papers

A COUPLE from King’s Cross have become the first mixed-sex civil partners in the borough.

Sophie Talbot and Simon Castle signed the papers at 10am on December 31, the first day that partnerships were allowed in England and Wales after a change in the law.

Ms Talbot said: “What has surprised me is how important it feels. “I wasn’t expecting that until we had done it. “Once we had done it and came out of Tavistock House we felt we had done something for us personally. It is so important and valuable in our lives.”

Civil partnerships were created in 2004 to give same-sex couples – who at the time were not allowed to wed – similar legal and financial protection to a marriage.

A campaign to open up civil partnerships to everybody went as high as the Supreme Court, spearheaded by Charles Keidan and Rebecca ­Steinfeld, a couple who used to live in Belsize Park. They wanted to make a commitment to each ­other without getting married.

“It is only down to the campaigning that we have been able to do this,” said Ms Talbot. “The whole culture of marriage is incredibly sexist and puts the expectation on men and women to behave in a certain way. “I was a best woman for a good friend of mine and there is nothing against it for those who want that. “But, for me, it’s ­purely about equality.”

The couple had first met 16 years ago through Ms Talbot’s sister, who lives in Kent. Instead of a “best man” or “maid of honour” Ms Talbot and Mr Castle were joined at the registry office by their two witnesses, Mr ­Castle’s daughter Laura Clark and friend Alison Jinks, and their “best dog” Daisy, a mixed-breed Staffie-Boxer.

Tavistock House is being used while the registry offices at Camden Town Hall in Judd Street are refurbished.

Mr Castle said: “We were in and out in 15 minutes. We chose to have a standard short ceremony.” The couple and their guests went on to the Euston Flyer for “a glass of sparkly” with breakfast and a coffee. Ms Talbot added: “The short ceremony ended with the words ‘I pronounce you civil partners, together’ and at that point I very nearly burst out crying… with happiness, obviously.”

Nine ceremonies have taken place at Tavistock House registry office since December 31 when the law came in.

Cabinet councillor Richard Olszewski said: “Our registration team is delighted to offer this service and we are advising all interested couples to register their interest by emailing Camden’s register office.”

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