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Civil Partnerships

Civil Partnership - the legal bit

The Civil Partnership Law was passed by parliament on 17 Nov 04, receiving Royal Ascent on the 18th November 2004. This act enables gay and lesbian couples to commit to one another in the eyes of the law with a Commitment Ceremony. The ceremony will be performed by a Registrar.

The only real difference between marriage and civil partnerships is that you won’t be able to carry out the partnership ceremony in a church (or any religious place). However, there are an increasing number of Churches and religious groups across the country that will carry out a commitment ceremony for you, even if the official deed of paperwork signing has to be done somewhere else. A bit Camilla and Charlie in fact. Certain military chaplains will be prepared to offer a blessing for partnerships, have a look in the public forum for further details.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004

The key sections of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 are reproduced within the Civil Law section; Stonewall have more information on their website.

It gives same sex couples the ability to obtain legal recognition for their relationship. Couples who form a civil partnership will have a new legal status – that of “civil partner”. The CPA 2004 provides same-sex couples with parity of treatment, in a wide range of legal matters, with opposite-sex couples who enter into a civil marriage.

The first twelve months

The government anticipated 4,500 Civil Partnerships in the first 12 months and between 11 000 and 22 000 by 2010. There had already been 15 672 partnerships in the first 9 months from Dec 05 to Sep 06.

Financial implications of civil partnership

Financial implications of the changes to employment law that apply to civil partners are explored on the employment law pages.

Consomme?

There is the one other difference - gay prudes look away now - there is no legal obligation to consumate the relationship in a Civil Partnership, so that’ll be a relief to those of us who prefer the Telegraph quickie crossword before bed, rather than anything else!

Applicability to the Armed Forces

From 5 Dec 05 Service personnel who register a partnership under the terms of the CPA 2004, or have already entered into an equivalent same sex union in a country whose civil partnership scheme is recognised by the CPA 2004, and provide proof of such registration in the same way as personnel are required to provide proof of marriage, will be afforded the same status category as married personnel and will be entitled to the same range of allowances and benefits as married personnel.

This document and accompanying Question and Answer material supplements the information contained in the Joint Service DIN "2005DIN02-186" on the introduction of the CPA 2004 by providing additional guidance on those questions most likely to be asked by Service personnel.

A further DIN (2005DIN02-186) is available on defenceNet 

Implications for military pensions and housing

Civil partners will be able to accrue survivor pensions in public service schemes and contracted-out pension schemes from 1988 (In line with existing legislation which equalised treatment of the sexes for pension purposes with effect from 6 April 1988). They will be treated in the same way as married couples for tax purposes.

Armed Forces Pension Scheme: Rights for civil partners. Under the heading 'Dependants’ Benefits': Benefits will be extended to same sex partners who can demonstrate they are in a substantial relationship, including financial inter-dependency. (See DCI JS 3/2004) (this was before the Civil Partnership Act)

Service Families Accommodation and Allowances: The main difference between the treatment of married and unmarried partners is in the provision of Service Families Accommodation (SFA). However, now that the Civil Partnership Bill is enacted, same-sex couples who obtain legal recognition of their relationship through a civil partnership will be eligible to receive the same benefits as married personnel (ie allowances/SFA).