Civil Partnership Bill...
The long promised Civil Partnership Bill will be unveiled by the Government today. It essentially means that in England and Wales gay couples who sign the civil partnership registry will get joint rights. Yay!
These might include:
- Visiting rights in hospitals (incredibly this causes more heart ache than any other issue)
- An ability to gain parental responsibility for each other's children (I guess it is the 21st century)
- Recognition for immigration purposes (have to be together 3 years)
- Joint state pension benefits (not possible until 2010 though)
- Obligation to support each other financially (like that doesn't happen already!)
- Ability to claim compensation for fatal accidents or criminal injuries (good one)
- Recognition under inheritance and intestacy rules (there have been so many cases of a family muscling in when one partner dies)
- The right to register their partner's death and continue tenancy of a property (about bloody time!)
- Exemption from inheritance tax on a partner's home (about bloody time too!)
- Exemption from testifying against each other in court (would you go out with a crook? now you can!)
Dissolution of a civil partnership could be based upon separation, desertion, unreasonable behaviour or the deliberate passing on of a sexually transmitted disease and would mean dividing up of the jointly owned possessions with recourse to the law if needed. On the up side, adultery will NOT be a grounds for dissolution. Yay! And pre-nups are allowed too. Yay!
The plans have already faced criticism for failing to offer similar rights to unmarried heterosexual couples. But let's face it - straight people have the option to get married. Also The Christian Institute has mounted a spirited campaign against the idea - a campaign that still rages as we speak.
Incidentally the Government has no plans to allow same-sex couples to marry. The bill will create an entirely new legal status of civil partnership. Couples (defined as adult, same-sex who are not in an existing registered partnership or marriage and not closely related) would give intention to register at a registry office, and could sign the civil partnerships register 15 days later.
And best of all, once signed we would have the legal right to call each other that wonderful dry and clinical title 'civil partner' - how sweet.
And for those of you who know Mark and I and are perhaps less than keen on the idea of civil partnerships look at it this way - it'll be an excuse for the giant piss up at our expense! Yay!