- civil partnership can only be a civil, and not religious, procedure, whereas opposite-sex couples can, in relevant circumstances, choose to have either a religious or a civil marriage ceremony
- adultery is not a ground for dissolution of a civil partnership (as it is for divorce), nor is consummation a criterion for legal validity (as it is in marriage); however, infidelity may be a contributory factor where ‘unreasonable behaviour’ is cited as a ground for seeking dissolution of a civil partnership
- there are differences in procedure: a civil partnership is formed when the second partner signs the relevant document, whereas a civil marriage is formed when the couple exchange spoken words and then the register is signed.
So clearly there is some inequality here, the worst being the grounds for divorce not being the same between the two. Also perhaps both methods of joining a couple together should be given the same names, as I would argue that this distinction is a negative one.
The option for change that I think would help fix this problem would be of course to improve the status of civil partnerships so they have the same legal standing as straight couples, but also to change the way the religious institutions decide what is the best course of action. As it is the head of the Church of England for example decides what all the individual C of E churches do, I think it would be a more democratic and fair method to allow the people in attendance at that church to have a referendum among themselves to decide what they think. That way individual congregations could decide what they honestly think on the matter, speakers from either side could come in to talk about their views and a rational decision could be made at a local level. And if you don’t like the decision made at that church you are free to leave and attend elsewhere. What’s fairer than that? Why should some religious leader somewhere not democratically elected be allowed to decide what a whole religion thinks about anything?
But ultimately the issue is not that big in the UK compared with elsewhere, as far as I’m concerned the legal status should be the same, individual churches should be able to make the choice for themselves, and the terms used in both gay and straight partnerships should be equal to avoid confusion and offence.
I personally am not religious and as much as I can respect those who are for their beliefs (provided they give me the same credit) I struggle to take the opinions religions quite as to heart as others do. As far as I’m concerned if I want to be in any form of partnership with whomever I love I don’t need the Church’s approval to do so. The problem is when same-sex couples do value the opinion of the church, which is of course where this issue originates.
There will always been arseholes in the world who regard not just gay people but other social ‘minorities’ and women as lower than them in the social chain. This is of course the brand of ignorance and stupidity I and others like me hope to fight against, but I am not convinced it will ever go away entirely, or not for a long while. In the end it is important to value yourself and your beliefs, and regardless of your sexuality, gender, religion or any other definition you place on yourself to strive to treat others as you would wish to be treated.
- Church applies to be first in London to hold gay ‘weddings’ (standard.co.uk)
- Labour backs church gay marriages (bbc.co.uk)
- Stephen Fry accuses Church of ‘caving in to extremists over gay marriage’ (standard.co.uk)
- C. of E. bishops urged to have honest discussion about gay clergy (kiwianglo.wordpress.com)
- Gay weddings: ‘We want a conventional wedding, just the same as everyone else’ (independent.co.uk)
- Gay Ulster born MP Conor Burns not for same sex marriage (newsletter.co.uk)
- UK: Church weddings possible in 10 years, says gay dean (mumbailaity.wordpress.com)