This week the government announced plans for civil partnerships – a way for same sex couples to register their relationships and get the same rights and responsibilities as married couples. According to the BBC,
This is, to me, great news. It covers all the important stuff – inheritance rights (without the tax liability), ability to be named as next of kin (including making decisions about care when your partner is incapacitated and the right to register the death of a partner), and you have go through a formal process to dissolve the partnership. What I don’t get, though, is how this plan differs from marriage. What don’t we get that married people do get? Apart, of course, from the religious bit. It seems to me that this is gay marriage in all but name. Which is just fine by me, really.
Interestingly, Peter Tatchell (and others) said that he thought the fact that civil partnerships are only open to same sex couples was ‘heterophobic‘. As is often the case, I completely disagree with the man. My experience of talking to heterosexual couples about why they haven’t married suggests that they would gain nothing by being included in the legislation. Some straight couples have religious objections to marriage, but can marry without the religious aspect already. Others have a problem with participating in a state system, but civil partnerships will include gay couples in the state, rather than offer an opt-out. Some have family pressure to marry, but I suggest that’s unlikely to be as difficult to cope with as the average response to telling someone you’re shacking up with your same-sex partner, so I have little sympathy for this. And the other reason for not marrying is about uncertainty about the longevity of the relationship but, again, civil partnerships don’t get around this as civil partnerships have to be dissolved through a legal process and make both parties subject to alimony and the like. All in all, I just don’t get the argument about including straight couples in the scheme.
You can download the consultation paper and comment on it – I certainly plan to.
Also this week, news that there could be a hormonal link to lesbianism. A little scary but worth reading ’cause it has genuine health implications…