Thinking Anglicans

Supreme Court rules on Civil Partnerships

Updated to correct first sentence

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that restricting civil partnerships to same-sex couples is discriminatory.

The court’s own press release is here, and the full text of the judgement is over here.

UK Human Rights Blog published this beforehand: The ‘straight civil partnership’ challenge: All you need to know before the Supreme Court Judgment.

As yet it’s quite unknown how the UK government will respond to this decision. It had earlier embarked on a consultation, to which the Church of England has already responded. See our earlier article: Church of England opposes end to civil partnerships.

Some earlier articles on what the Church of England thought at the time:

 

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David Lamming
David Lamming
3 years ago

Simon, you say that “as yet it’s quite unknown how the UK government will respond to [the Supreme Court] decision”. However, Tim Loughton MP, who has a private member’s bill currently before Parliament seeking to change the law to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, raised the issue yesterday at PMQs in the light of the SC decision, given a couple of hours or so earlier: “This morning the Supreme Court ruled that the Government had created inequality in not extending civil partnerships to everyone when they passed the equal marriage legislation back in 2013, and that discrimination needs to… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 years ago

Why? The set of people who will take a civil partnership (which was explicitly designed to mirror marriage in every possible way other than the name) rather than just getting married is vanishingly small. It consists of people who are fighting a completely fictive battle of concern to almost no-one about a view of registry office marriage shared by a tiny number of obsessives. Contrary to the claims made at the time, civil partnerships are now being used by only a tiny handful of same-sex couples. There might be a possible pension issue were the government to be crazy enough… Read more »

Bernard
Bernard
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 years ago

How is that £3.3B figure arrived at?

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 years ago

No, that’s not my argument. My argument is that extending to opposite-sex couples the current civil partnership, which does include pension equalisation, will not cause any significant number of extra “civil partnerships or marriage” to be formed. In other words, opposite-sex civil partnerships will be instead of, rather than as well as, marriages. So opening up the current civil partnership to opposite-sex couples will be a non-event for pensions, as the aggregate number of people with survivor rights will remain roughly constant. It might be possible, albeit pointless and messy, to construct a marriage-lite form of civil partnership which would… Read more »

Bernard
Bernard
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 years ago

As far as I can see, the figure is to do with equalising survivor benefits between same-sex and opposite-sex partnerships (whether marriages or CPs) accrued before 2005. The figure has nothing to do with the possible introduction of CPs for opposite sex couples or the discontinuation of CPs for everybody. The report conflates a number of different issues so it’s quite difficult to tell. I agree with IO that this is a non-event as far as pensions are concerned.

Bernard
Bernard
3 years ago

This will be helpful to the Government because it will restrict the range of options it needs to consider. The only possibilities are presumably 1. To open CPs to all couples, and hence to run CP and marriage in parallel indefinitely 2. To discontinue CPs, at least for new entrants. Within option 1, if the view is that CPs are not “marriage-lite” but are a different construct of equal value, then perhaps there needs to be a provision for conversion in both directions! My post on the previous thread on this topic points to evidence, from Quebec, that CPs are… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Bernard
3 years ago

There is absolutely no way that a government mired in Brexit is going to mess around with a complex range of marriage-lite options. So your options 1 and 2 are the only options, and neither matters. Option 1 doesn’t matter for the reasons I set out above, that no-one outside a small number of noisy campaigners cares. So a tiny number of people might enter into marriage by another name rather than marriage by name? So what? Option 2 doesn’t matter much more because last year fewer than 1000 same-sex couples had civil partnerships, and it’s unknowable how many of… Read more »

James Byron
James Byron
3 years ago

Unless they’re gonna create some kinda marriage-lite civil union, given that the purpose they were created for (equal marriage in all but name) is now redundant, the British government should just abolish civil partnerships, offering everyone a free upgrade or, if they wish, dissolution.

Of course, for the obvious reasons, the CoE would loathe this, and will do all they can to maintain the status quo. They’ll grudgingly accept civil partnerships being opened to couples regardless of sex, so that’s probably how this’ll go.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  James Byron
3 years ago

“They’ll grudgingly accept civil partnerships being opened to couples regardless of sex, so that’s probably how this’ll go.” Given how dishonestly the CofE has behaved over both CP and SSM (claiming during the SSM debates to have been supportive of CP on the basis that it wasn’t marriage, when in fact the bishops in the Lords voted for various wrecking amendments) I doubt that the CofE will get a say. Welby was completely ignored during the SSM debate other than over the matter of the CofE’s exemption and “triple lock”, a “victory” I suspect he, or his successors, will come… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  James Byron
3 years ago

From the Twitter feed of a (straight, non-Christian) acquaintance of mine:

‘I would definitely have had a Civil Partnership over a marriage if it had been possible. The history of marriage is appalling – it’s history is an exchange of women as property. I didn’t want any of that but I wanted a legal recognition of my partnership with ______’.

So apparently the market for civil partnerships is not quite dead, James.

James Byron
James Byron
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 years ago

Emphasis on “history.” Given that coverture was abolished in the 19th century, I see no reason that it continues to so taint marriage as to justify a parallel institution identical in all but name. Origin fallacy, much? And given the nakedly unequal motivation for creating that parallel institution in the first place, this fails even on its own terms.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  James Byron
3 years ago

I didn’t say I agreed with it (I don’t live in England, so I probably shouldn’t even be chiming in). But apparently to some people it’s still an important option.

Robert Ian Williams
Robert Ian Williams
3 years ago

Abolish Civil partnerships..there is civil marriage for any one.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
3 years ago

There is a percentage of people, probably small, who view “marriage” as a religious construct. In their minds, civil marriage is merely the government ratifying a mutually agreed upon contractual arrangement. No different than, say, two small businesses merging together and signing off on the contract to do so. Those people might very well want to continue to have the option of a civil partnership. Whether such a percentage of the population is enough for the Parliament to continue Civil Partnerships is a matter of debate. Within gay and lesbian couples, it would be interesting to know how many have… Read more »

Bernard
Bernard
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
3 years ago

Can I refer Tim and Peter to my previous post (number 23 at https://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/7900-2/#comments) In Quebec, where couples have had the choice for some years, the proportion of opposite sex couples opting for CPs is about 1% (stable over time). Of same sex couples it’s 4% (reducing over time). That’s the numerical evidence. Tim, being Canadian, can confirm or deny my speculation that, because the predominant denomination is Roman Catholic, the pressure to have a CP rather than a marriage is, for both sorts of couples, if anything slightly higher in Quebec than in England. By the way, it’s somewhat… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Bernard
3 years ago

I wouldn’t dare make pronouncements about Quebec, which is over a thousand miles from me, a different province and a very distinct society. However, I myself would be very cautious against ascribing any significance to Quebec’s historic Roman Catholicism, which has been in retreat since the days of the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s. Alan Perry would be far more qualified than me to speak about this, if he is reading this.

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