AS THE date of the first UK gay weddings comes closer, the
Government has launched a consultation on civil partnerships.
The first same-sex couples who want to get married will be able
to do so on 29 March. The legislation will also allow those
currently in civil partnerships to convert them into marriages.
Civil partnerships will remain an option for gay couples, but not
The Government's consultation is asking individuals and
organisations what they think about the future of civil
partnerships, now that gay and lesbian couples can get married.
It notes that some are calling for civil partnerships to be
abolished entirely, whereas others believe that they shouldbe
opened up to straightcouples.
Meanwhile, a gay couple are threatening the Government with
legal action after discovering they will only be able to get
married from 29 March if they first dissolve their civil
The Government has not yet decided how civil partners can
convert their partnerships into marriages, and a spokesman for the
Department of Culture, Media and Sport said that the procedure
would be finalised only later this year.
But Michael and Paul Atwal-Brice, who entered a civil
partnership in 2008, are considering launching a judicial review,
because they argue it is unfair to force them to get the equivalent
of a divorce before they can marry. Mr Atwal-Brice told The
Guardian: "There are legal and practical difficulties if we
were forced to divorce."
With some clergy likely to enter same-sex marriages, the House
of Bishops will meet next month to discuss what approach to take
when gay marriage becomes legal in March.