UK top court allows civil partnership for opposite-sex couple
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UK top court allows civil partnership for opposite-sex couple

The UK Supreme Court ruled [judgment, PDF] Wednesday that heterosexual couples may now enter into a civil partnership rather than marriage. Prior to this decision, civil partnerships were held exclusive to same-sex couples.

In 2004, marriage was not an option for same-sex couples, and so the Civil Partnership Act [text] was passed. This gave these couples the option to register as civil partners so their relationship would be on record.

With the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act [text] in 2013, same-sex couples had the choice to enter into a civil partnership or a marriage.

In this case, a heterosexual couple did not like the patriarchal history that marriage holds and wished to enter into a civil partnership. They appealed their case to the Supreme Court, alleging that they were being treated unfairly by not being allowed to register their relationship.

A press statement [text, PDF] accompanying the judgment said:

The government had to eliminate the inequality of treatment immediately when the MSSCA came into force. This could have been done either by abolishing civil partnerships or by instantaneously extending them to different-sex couples. If the government had chosen one of these options, it might have been theoretically possible to then conduct research which could have influenced its longer term decision as to what to do with civil partnerships.

Civil partnerships are now a legal option for any couple.