By Gemma Gillespie, Associate Solicitor
The Conservative party has confirmed it will be implementing the decision of the Supreme Court to allow hetero-sexual couples to enter into civil partnerships as well as marriage.
But, what in real terms is the actual difference in these two institutions?
In reality, there is no difference, both bring with them a collection of rights and benefits that are not available to a couple, straight or gay, who choose simply to live with one another.
Civil partnership was introduced in by the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and was enacted by Parliament to afford same sex couples the rights and protections hetero-sexual couples benefitted from when they married. At the time our elected representatives balked at going the whole way and permitting same sex couples to marry, so civil partnership was introduced as a halfway house.
On 29 March 2014, gay marriage was legalised and it was anticipated that civil partnership would cease to be relevant, but interestingly this has not happened. Same sex couples are still electing sometimes to enter civil partnerships rather than marriage. For example, there has actually been an increase in the take up of civil partnership during 2016 and 2017, although the levels are 1/6th of what they were before same sex marriage was legalised.
It was patently discriminatory that hetero-sexual couples were being denied the choice of civil partnership. Rebecca Steinfield and Charles Keidan felt a civil partnership, rather than marriage, more accurately reflected the nature of their relationship and decided to take their case all the way to the Supreme Court and they were ultimately successful.
Maybe there really is a difference and that is the connotations that come with the title. For some people, marriage comes with historical notions of ownership and inequality and they prefer the term partnership, but for others that is all too clinical and unromantic and they will continue to prefer the term ‘married’.
Now, at last, it will be open for everyone to make up their own minds about what is right for them.
If you have any queries on this or any other family matter, please don’t hesitate to give family lawyer Gemma Gillespie a call on 01892 515022 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org