Friday 13th: unlucky for marriage reform

A Parliamentary bid to open up civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples has failed to progress to third reading after a debate in the House of Commons today.

The Private Member’s Bill “Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment)” was brought forward by Conservative MP Tim Loughton. It ran out of time at its second reading today despite cross-party support from Tory, Labour, SNP, Lib Dem, Green and Plaid Cymru MPs.

When marriage was opened up to same-sex couples in 2012 there was an accompanying move to open up civil partnerships in a mirror of what was happening to marriage. This was brought forward by Lynne Featherstone, the Lib Dem minister who introduced same-sex marriage under the Coalition Government. However her Conservative coalition partners blocked the move to allow mixed-sex civil partnerships then, just as Labour had done in the previous government.

A year ago the battle went to court but the court case was defeated on the grounds that the government might abolish civil partnerships as they wane in popularity.  This seemed a strange ruling given same-sex marriage is still not allowed in Northern Ireland.

Civil partnership rates have declined by some 85% since same-sex marriage became an option, but they have not completely vanished.