So you've found the lucky girl (or guy, for any guys reading!), the question's been popped, and you may have started, (or be well into) planning.
But, what about the ceremony itself? These are the rules for entering into a Civil Partnership in the UK...
1. Firstly, you must:
*not be close relatives
*be a same sex couple
*be 16 or over
*not already be in a Civil Partnership or marriage
2.You need to give notice of your intent to form a Civil Partnership at your local registry office (find yours here .)
This needs to be done at least 15 days (14 in Scotland) before your intended Civil Partnership date. If you're having a long engagement, remember that your notice will last a year. You will need to make an appointment - the meeting will consist of you been seen separately, and you'll need I.D. and proof that you've lived in the UK for at least 7 days.
3.Your Civil Partnership can take place between 8am and 6pm on any day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, at a licensed location. If your ceremony is outdoors, some parts of it need to be inside a permanent structure such as a pagoda or band stand. Civil Partnerships are now allowed in some religious buildings, although the rules of reference to religion are the same (see below).
4.Although you give notice at your local registry office, you need to book the registrar in the area your ceremony venue is in to perform your Civil Partnership.
1.A marriage is currently only open to opposite gender couples, a Civil Partnership is only open to same sex couples.
2.The marriage ceremony is formed by the reading of vows, whereas a Civil Partnership involves signing a document- you aren't required to have vows, rings, or even a ceremony if you don't want to, as long as 2 witnesses observe you signing the register.
3.A marriage can contain religious references, songs and readings, a Civil Partnership cannot - even the word 'marriage' is classed as a religious reference, and you cannot refer to each other as husband, wife, bride etc during the ceremony (although nothing's stopping you using those terms afterwards!)
4.As gay sex doesn't exist (?!) you cannot dissolve your Civil Partnership due to adultery!
1. They are both legally binding and not to be take into lightly!
2. They both mean you and your partner are now each others next of kin
3. You gain rights from marriage or civil partnerships regarding hospital visitation, child access and maintenance, tenancy, benefits, taxes, pension etc.
In July 2011 a survey conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion shows public opinion on same sex couples:
43% believe same sex couples should be allowed to marry
34% believe same sex couples should be allowed Civil Partnerships but not marriage
15% believe same sex couples should be allowed no legal recognition
(8% chose not to answer)
As you can see, although the largest portion (43%) of people believe same sex couples should be allowed marriage, 49% believe we shouldn't, with 15% of those believing we should have nothing at all.
Personally, I can't see how us having Civil Partnerships, or even marriages, affects other people. Surely the desire to commit to one person for the rest of your life should be seen as a positive contribution to society, rather than 'damaging the sanctity of marriage'.
It's been said that the government plans to make Civil Marriage for same-sex couples legal by the next general election (7th May 2015)-they plan to start discussing this in March this year.
Although this will be too late for us - our Civil Partnership (referred to by us as marriage/wedding!) is booked for July next year - hopefully if we renew our vows in a few years time, we'll be allowed to be declared wife and wife like this beautiful couple!
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