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Civil Partnerships for Opposite-Sex Couples

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The government has announced that the law will be changed to allow opposite-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships, thereby providing an alternative to marriage.

Currently, the choice of entering into either a marriage or a civil partnership is available only to same-sex couples. Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan have been on a three and a half year campaign arguing for civil partnerships to be extended to opposite-sex couples. In June of this year, the couple's case went all the way to the Supreme Court where it was held that current legislation is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights as it applies only to same-sex couples and therefore amounts to discrimination.

The judgment consequently placed pressure on the government and as a result, Theresa May has now confirmed that the law will be amended.

Speaking on the issue, the prime minister said “This change in the law helps protect the interests of opposite-sex couples who want to commit, want to formalise their relationship but don’t necessarily want to get married.”

There are a number of reasons why couples may not wish to get married. In the case of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, they believe that a civil partnership represents a more modern institution than marriage. The introduction of civil partnerships for all couples can therefore be said to reflect the changing attitudes in society towards marriage and recognises that whilst some couples may wish to avoid the label of “marriage”, they nonetheless still want to benefit from the legal rights that a formally recognised relationship can offer (e.g. in respect of tax, pensions and inheritance).

Only time will tell how many people will opt for a civil partnership over a marriage.