One week to be heard: civil partnership reform

The government’s public consultation on mixed-gender civil partnerships and associated reforms has just a week left to run.

The government is committed to changing the law by 31 December 2019 to allow opposite-sex couples to form civil partnerships.

With the advent of mixed-gender civil partnerships – which was blocked at the time of the same-sex marriage bill and is now being brought about as a result of the Supreme Court ruling, there are fine nuances of marriage and civil partnership implementation to be hammered out.

If you think mixed-gender couples should be able to turn their existing marriage into a civil partnership without all that messy divorce-and-reunite, or indeed if you don’t, this is the time to be heard.

The survey is here including accompanying notes. It closes at midnight on 20 August.

It was widely expected that the advent of same-sex marriage would see the decline into irrelevance of civil partnerships after 2014, but it hasn’t worked out that way – and not just in Northern Ireland, where marriage is still a strictly mixed-gender affair. Some people want a way of having their partnership recognised in law without some of the baggage and legal precedent that marriage carries.

The government’s own research, published alongside the survey, notes that of some 2000 people surveyed who were in mixed-gender relationships, 15% said they would be very interested and another 21% fairly interested in civil partnerships as an option rather than marriage.  The 50% who were not very interested or not at all interested may outweigh that, but as these are choices for individual couples not society as a whole the 36% could be the start of a substantial number of civil partnership weddings. Thankfully one in ten said they would have to discuss it with their partner first – a wise step!