Yes to same-sex marriage: whither civil partnership?

BCN 123 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 123, February 2014

The Scottish Parliament has passed the Same-Sex Marriage (Scotland) Bill by a huge 108 to 15 vote margin at the start of February.  The vote to pass the bill at third and final reading was not unexpected as the previous stages had also passed by significant margins.

The Scottish bill is different in a few respects including lacking the ‘spousal veto’ on application for Gender Recognition Certificates for trans people.  It provides for belief organisations such as the Humanist Society to conduct marriages and civil partnerships. In England & Wales, there are no humanist marriages, but there will be a review of the possibility of allowing this, scheduled to report at the end of 2014.

Westminster voted through its same-sex marriage bill last summer which comes into effect at the end of March, with the first weddings on Saturday 29th, so it is expected a similar length of delay in implementation would mean the first same-sex weddings in Scotland this autumn.

The debate in England & Wales now turns to the question of civil partnerships: to abolish, keep, or extend them to mixed-sex couples?  The consultation phase on this runs until 17 April 2014, and you can read more and respond to it here: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-the-future-of-civil-partnership-in-england-and-wales