Scottish Government is consulting on the future of civil partnerships – respond by Tuesday

What should happen to civil partnerships now that we have equal marriage? (Yes, I know it’s not properly equal in England because of the spousal veto.)

The Scottish Government simply wants to abolish them and is consulting on that proposal

I have responded to the consultation this morning saying that I think that they should be retained and opened up to all couples. For me, that’s the “liberal max” option. Marriage isn’t for everyone, so it shouldn’t be the only way possible for people to formalise their relationships and benefit from legal protections.

I do respect the view of those who think that civil partnerships were a “grubby little compromise” and they therefore can’t wait to see the back of them, but I think a reform would benefit many people.

Sophie Bridger, then President-Elect of Liberal Youth Scotland, argued in a 2011 LDV article that civil partnerships represented a “modern, radical way to commit to a partner.”

Civil partnerships were designed specifically not to be marriage, in order to placate religious groups and the right wing. Without a doubt, civil partnerships and marriage are equal, in rights, in responsibilities, and commitment. But they have the potential to offer very different things to a couple, different frameworks and different boundaries for a relationship to grow within. Marriage offers religious blessing, whilst up until recently civil partnerships have been compulsorily secular until that changed thanks to the Liberal Democrats. And whether you like it or not, they also have very different historical contexts. Marriage comes with a lot of social baggage. Brides can keep their name, they can refuse to be given away by their father, but ultimately they’re still participating in an institution that originated in the ownership of women.

I was impressed with the ease of responding to the consultation. You can do it properly online now without having to copy and paste questions into an email. They are seeking feedback on the ease of use of the system. I did point out that I gave them “very satisfied” without knowing whether they would send me a copy of my response and that might have affected my mark. However, they do send it to you as a PDF so that is very good.

If you live or are on the electoral roll in Scotland and you have a view on this, please respond here.. Those nice people at the Equality Network have helpfully prepared this briefing.

If you live in England and Wales, what would you like to see done with civil partnerships?

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Lynne featherstone 12th Dec '15 - 3:20pm

    Cameron threw out straight civil partnerships during same sex marriage journey as price for agreeing to same sex marriage itself. Our consultation showed that majority of respondents wanted straight civil partnerships. Unfinished business which I intend to pursue in HoL

  • I am in a civil partnership registered in England. Neither me nor my partner have any wish to convert our partnership to a marriage as we are non-religious and I see no practical benefits from doing so. I agree with your assessment Caron, they should be made available to all couples.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 12th Dec '15 - 4:32pm

    Thanks, Lynne. That’s very useful to know.

  • I assume, Caron you intend “all couples” to include those that do not satisfy the criteria for marriage. Which also raises the question as to whether a civil partnership is exclusive, like marriage or if it is simply a contract and hence parties to a civil partnership could be in other civil partnerships or even married.

  • I would support civil partnerships for different sex couples but if they are to have the same rights as marriage then they would have to be exclusive as marriage is. If multiple civil partnerships were permitted then it would be almost impossible to justify granting such rights.

  • nvelope2003 – at present that is, broadly, the case.

    Not sure why it would be so difficult to grant similar rights / recognition to, for example, three people in a similarly stable polyamorous releationship?

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