Yet again it is said that the rights and obligations of civil partnership are “almost identical to those of civil marriage”. Can anyone tell me, out of curiosity, what the actual difference IS? All I know (or am told) is that there ARE some…even the registrar at our own civil partnership couldn’t tell us?!
There is no adultery ground for dissolution of civil partnership, but in practice sexual infidelity can constitute the “unreasonable behaviour” ground for dissolution, so there is probably no practical difference in access to divorce and dissolution of CP.
In Scotland, “permanent and incurable impotency” is a ground for annulling a marriage, but not a CP. But since it is defined as inability to penetrate the vagina with the penis, it does not make much sense to apply it to CP. In England and Wales there is a related but different rule about non-consummation – again this does not apply to CP.
More importantly, a bereaved CP generally gets a smaller survivor’s pension from their partner’s pension pot than a bereaved wife would get if her husband had the same pension pot. But a bereaved CP gets the same survivor’s pension as a bereaved husband would get from his wife’s pot. The fundamental discrimination here is between husband and wife.
And probably most important for people who want to move abroad, the framework for recognition of CPs in other countries is less well developed than the framework for international recognition of marriage.
There are some other very minor details, eg in Scotland a wife cannot be charged with handling stolen goods if her husband stole them, and cannot be charged with harbouring a fugitive from justice if the fugitive is her husband. These rules do not apply to CPs, but also they don’t apply to marriage if you swap round the husband and wife.
Overall, most of the differences are where marriage has sexual intercourse specific, or gender discrminatory rules.
I should also have said in my first paragraph above, that adultery is defined in law as where the husband or wife has heterosexual intercourse with someone other than their spouse. Bill Clinton may have had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky but he did not commit adultery with her – oral sex does not count. Neither does same-sex sex of any kind.
So if a married man has sex with another man, that’s not adultery, but his wife could potentially get a divorce under the unreasonable behaviour ground.
The right solution of course is to abolish the adultery rule for marriage and to use the unreasonable behaviour ground instead.
And the rules about handling stolen goods and harbouring a fugitive from justice should be abolished for marriage (they’re gender discriminatory anyway).
And pension rights should be equalised between husbands and wives – then civil partners would be equal too. But that won’t happen because it would cost the banks too much to give husbands the same survivor’s pension as wives, and it woiuld be politically impossible and wrong to reduce the pension rights of wives to equal the lower rights that husbands’ get.
Tim thanks for clarifying. So there are differences between CPs and marriage, I always knew that. If they were indentical on every point, there wouldn’t be any need to call them CPs now would there? Makes no sense. I don’t think a straight couple would opt for a civil partnership given the choice even though I think they should be available to them just as civil marriage should be for gays. Equal access for all is full equality for straights and gays alike. Everybody wins.
Differences in pension rights go a little furter than Tim describes. Certain final-salary pension schemes only have to pay survivor pensions to civil partners based on the deceased member’s contributions from December 2005, even when the member was contributing to the pension scheme before then. This can mean that many years’ worth of contributions can be ignored when calculating survivor benefits for civil parners. Not so for widows or widowers.
Keith Bradley-Wilson “Yet again it is said that the rights and obligations of civil partnership are “almost identical to those of civil marriage”. Can anyone tell me, out of curiosity, what the actual difference IS?”
There are only two differences:
1. A marriage has to be consummated. A CP does not.
2. A married couple have to live under the same roof, in a CP, this is not a concern.
Keith Bradley Wilson – Difference -CP are for gays and marriages are for straights – pretty fundametal difference there….Can you see any reason why in 2010 we should still be discriminating on grounds of sexual orientation?
I’m also pretty pissed off with likes of Lynne Featherstone, I thought the lib dem agenda was gay marriages , yet I read today from an interview back in Nov her saying she wanted to “move the CP agenda forward” – No we want the gay marriage agenda moved forward!!!
Also we voted for you not to be the spokespersons of how wonderful the cons are and to tell us they have now changed. Look , complement the cons but what about complaining about them as well and fighyting for what the lib dems have voted for ie gay marrigae. I find the below statement from her weak and they aren’t doing themselves any favours by simply promoting the cons!!!!
• “I am very proud to push the LBG and T agenda forward. We are the first government ever to be publishing a Transgender Action Plan for equalities rights. That will come next year and they are probably the most marginalised groups. It was fantastic to go on the gay pride march, I will always push the equalities agenda as I am a Liberal but equally matched by my Conservative coalition, for a long time they had a relatively poor reputation here, but that has changed beyond recognition, and they now have a desire to move forward. The doors I am pushing at in terms of this equality agenda are far more open than people would realise.”
Ben Summerskill of Stonewall thinks marriage equality would cost too much.