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UK High Court rejects same-sex marriage challenge by couple married in Canada

[JURIST] The UK High Court [official website] on Monday denied a bid [JURIST report] by a British lesbian couple married in Canada to have their marriage recognized by British law, saying that the traditional British definition of marriage refers only to a union between a man and a woman with the purpose of reproduction. Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger [advocacy website] had challenged the Civil Partnership Act 2004 [text], which only accords same-sex couples who legally marry overseas the recognition of a civil union, saying the law was "profoundly discriminatory" because British law automatically recognizes heterosexual marriages performed in a different country. The High Court, however, ruled [judgment text] that civil unions give same-sex couples the same legal rights as marriage, and deferred to the traditional view of marriage.

Lawyers representing Wilkinson and Kitzinger sought a court declaration validating their marriage under the European Convention of Human Rights [text, PDF] and the UK Human Rights Act [text]. The judgment, written by presiding judge Sir Marc Potter, marks something of an about-turn for the court, which had indicated earlier that it might recognize the marriage. In an interim ruling in April that allowed [text] Wilkinson and Kitzinger's case to continue, Potter said:

I consider that there is sufficient material available for an argument based on principle and Commonwealth and US jurisprudence that the requirement of the Civil Partnership Act that a marriage between same-sex partners abroad must, on registration, be treated as a civil partnership and not a marriage, is on the face of it discriminatory on the grounds of sexual orientation in that, despite the equivalence of the material rights and responsibilities granted by the Act to the rights and the responsibilities of those enjoyed by married couples, the validity and dignity of the ceremony and title of marriage itself is denied to them.
Wilkinson and Kitzinger plan to appeal the High Court ruling. BBC News has more.

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