Civil Partnerships Arrive

The first mixed-sex Civil Partnerships are here at last. Today sees the first civil partnership ceremonies with many more expected later in the month – the ones that can happen now are a few that had prior notice given, while generally the period of notice from applying to have a civil partnership to the formal paperwork being done means they will really kick in at the end of the month.

As we reported in the summer, the government announced its intention earlier this year to bring in Civil Partnerships for mixed-sex couples by the end of this year.  This followed a series of legal challenges to the “same-sex couples only” nature of the civil partnership law, especially since reform to marriage law in 2013.

The original proposals for civil partnerships were not limited by gender, but this was amended during the passage of the legislation under the Blair government in the early 00s.

Civil partnerships enjoy many similar benefits to marriage, but there are a number of areas where civil partnerships do not mirror the kinds of rights and protections afforded to married couples.

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 remained a strictly mixed-gender affair.

Within a decade the government’s predictions are that there will be between 20,000 and 50,000 extra civil partnership registrations each year – with an additional cost of around £10m in partners’ defined benefits pension entitlements.

Some people want a way of having their partnership recognised in law without some of the baggage and legal precedent that marriage carries.