Civil partnerships were introduced in 2005 as an equality measure at a time when opening up marriage to same-sex couples was viewed as politically controversial. Following the later introduction of same-sex marriage in 2014 and the retention of civil partnerships exclusively for same-sex couples, a debate has occurred in England and Wales as to the need for a second mechanism for formalisation. Noting the government’s commitment to now extend civil partnerships to different-sex couples and thereby create two statuses for all, this chapter interrogates the relationship between these formalised statuses alongside the relationship that an individual has with a particular status. More specifically, it challenges dominant narratives present in both the academic scholarship and public discourse that conceptualise civil partnerships as ‘inferior’ or ‘marriage-lite.’ It argues that the engagement of same-sex couples with civil partnerships through initial registration or the refusal to convert to marriage despite the ability to do so has had the effect of turning civil partnership into a much-valued institution. The chapter suggests that a nascent ideology of civil partnership is now emerging that not only acknowledges some of the objections held by members of the LGBTQ+ community as to the institution of marriage but also gives, for some couples, better outward expression of their interpersonal relationship.
Hayward, A. (2020). Relationships with Status: Civil Partnership in an Era of Same-Sex Marriage. In F. Hamilton, & G. Noto La Diega (Eds.), Same-Sex Relationships, Law and Social Change (189-208). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429021589