If you’re straight, you probably never thought you were on the wrong side of marriage equality, but it turns out for the past few years, heterosexual people have had a bit of a bum deal.
Back in 2014, marriage for same-sex couples was made legal – and rightly so – finally bringing the UK’s laws inline with many countries across the globe. However, this instantly gave homosexual couples the option to have a civil partnership or a marriage, while heteros still only had marriage available to them.
Since then, straight couples have been campaigning for their right to enter a civil partnership, claiming the rule that only gay couples may get one is a breach of equality law. Thankfully they won a recent Supreme Court battle, and Prime Minister Theresa May has now announced plans to extend civil partnerships to all.
While a date for the law change is yet to be set, many couples are rejoicing. But why?
A modern alternative
If you’ve never been interested in the whole tradition of marriage, from the white dress to the name change, then a civil partnership is considered a modern, more balanced union.
Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, the couple who campaigned for the law change, opposed the marriage option as it’s “treated women as property for centuries” – seemingly a reference to the father handing his daughter over to a new man, with the woman in question changing her identity as she goes.
While not a legal requirement, this practice is heavily woven into the tradition. Just think of any wedding you’ve ever been to and you’ll see few people stray from the standard setup, despite its heavily sexist origins. A civil partnership comes with no traditions or expectations, leaving you with a fully blank canvas to make your own rules.
Husband and wife?
No need to be labelled as someone else’s ‘something’ – as civil partners you’re not ‘husband and wife’, but are still held in the same legal regard as any other married couple. A strong choice for people who don’t like labels or the connotation the traditional husband and wife labels carry.
No words required
Marriages legally require some sort of verbal vows to make the union valid – you know, the whole ‘I take thee to be my lawfully wedded wife’ spiel. Civil Partnerships only require the signing of a register to make them valid, so if you want to do something super low key, this could be a solid option.
Paper vs electronic
A small difference, but definitely symbolic of the more modern nature of civil partnerships, is the fact that they’re recorded on an electronic register rather than the hard paper copy kept for marriages. So you’ll be doing your bit for the planet as you enter your union!
Sexually transmitted disease annulments
Did you know you can annul a marriage if your partner has an STI at the time you say I do? Yep, really. The government guidelines say that you can cancel your union (without the need for divorce proceedings) “if at the time of the marriage the respondent was suffering from a venereal disease in a communicable form”.
No such rule exists for civil partnerships, but you can file for annulment in both cases if you find out your partner is pregnant with someone else’s child. Sexist af for obvious reasons in the case of same-sex couples, but hey, we don’t make the rules.
Dissolution not divorce
Although similar in nature, civil partners end their union with a dissolution, while marriages end with a divorce. In short, a dissolution requires your to sort out all personal issues before it goes through the courts – i.e. who’s keeping the dog, who gets custody of the children – while a divorce will see certain aspects decided by a judge.
So there you have it. It may not be for everyone, but if you’re thinking about committing to your partner sometime later in life, a civil partnership offers a way to do it almost completely on your own terms. Because who wants to wear head-to-toe white anyway?!