Differences between civil partnership and marriage



What is a civil union?


Civil partnerships in the United Kingdom, granted under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, allow same-sex couples to obtain essentially the same rights and responsibilities as civil marriage. Civil partners are entitled to the same property rights as married opposite-sex couples, the same exemption as married couples on inheritance tax, social security and pension benefits, and also the ability to get parental responsibility for a partner's children, as well as responsibility for reasonable maintenance of one's partner and their children, tenancy rights, full life insurance recognition, next of kin rights in hospitals, and others. There is a formal process for dissolving partnerships akin to divorce.


gay marriage


What is marriage?


The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 legalised full same-sex marriage starting from March 2014, although civil partnership also remains available. Later in 2014 it is planned to grant those in a civil partnership in England or Wales the ability to convert their partnership into a marriage. The equivalent Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 does not grant that ability, but includes provision for its later introduction, and does permit those already in civil partnership with one another to marry without first dissolving the mutual civil partnership.

Marriage is a unique legal status conferred by and recognized by governments the world over. It brings with it a host of reciprocal obligations, rights, and protections. Yet it is more than the sum of its legal parts. It is also a cultural institution. The word itself is a fundamental protection, conveying clearly that you and your life partner love each other, are united and belong by each other’s side. It represents the ultimate expression of love and commitment between two people and everyone understands that. No other word has that power, and no other word can provide that protection.


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