Meet the couple becoming Calderdale's first mixed-sex civil partners - 37 years after they first met
A couple from Calderdale will be one of the first to have a mixed-sex civil partnership in Britain after new legislation comes into force today.
Julie Thorpe, 61, and Keith Lomax, 70, from Hebden Bridge, have been together for 37 years and have three children and two grandchildren.
The couple, who met whilst working as journalists at a former community newspaper in Leeds, have now become one of the first to have a mixed-sex civil partnership ceremony at the register office in Halifax earlier this morning.
Miss Thorpe said: "Our romance started with a hug and a kiss at a New Year's Eve party 37 years ago so we really do see today as our anniversary as we have never had anything official, which is why we chose today for the civil partnership and we are very excited to be one of the first couple's to have this."
Mr Lomax, a human rights lawyer, said the couple had not wanted to get married because they both believe it is a "patriarchy" and very much "based on religion".
Miss Thorpe said the new partnership will not change their relationship "one jot".
"It will not make any difference to how we behave towards each other when we get up the next day," she said.
"We have had a very successful relationship for 37 years and a bit of paper is not going to make any difference to that whatsoever. It does give us some legal protection within that relationship."
Under new government rules, mixed-sex couples in England and Wales will be able to have a civil partnership, giving them similar rights and entitlements as married couples, such as marriage allowance tax relief, exemption from inheritance tax and joint parental responsibility for children born to civil partners.
Ms Thorpe, a project manager, said that having this equality with married couples under the law, in respect of financial and legal affairs, was the tipping point which helped them decide to tie the knot.
The changes come after heterosexual couple Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan won their legal bid at the Supreme Court in 2018 for the right to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage.
Rules were changed to extend civil partnerships - available to same-sex couples since 2005 - to everyone.
Miss Thorpe and Mr Lomax also see their ceremony as a chance to support equality for women.
Miss Thorpe added: "If you are just living together, you are not automatically treated as being man and wife.
"There is no such thing as common-law marriage, where you are considered to be married, so things like pensions, tax allowances, being someone's next-of-kin if you need powers of attorney.
"You do not have any rights as an unmarried couple, but a civil partnership option now has those legal rights without having to compromise our fairly strongly-held views about marriage."
Mr Lomax added: "It means as much to me as it does to her.
"As a man, I think it is absolutely crucial that we stand up against this long-standing domination by men over women's rights, and we need to do something about it. I am playing my small part in that."
The couple will celebrate their new partnership with a New Year's Eve party this evening.
They have yet to make any honeymoon plans, stating there is no better place than Yorkshire on a cold winter's day.