Same Sex Unions were legalized in the UK in December 2005. Does this give gay couples the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts?
December 2005 was a benchmark for same sex couples who sought the same recognition as their heterosexual counterparts in the United Kingdom. A law was passed making same sex unions legal. “The first ceremonies under the Civil Partnerships Act can take place in Northern Ireland on 19 December, followed by Scotland the next day and England and Wales on 21 December.” 'Gay weddings' become law in UK
On December 21st, the day same sex weddings became legal in England, one couple’s ceremony drew a crowd that was said to be the second-biggest draw to Guildhall. The couple was, Sir Elton John and his long time partner, David Furnish. The bigger crowd? They were the people who waited to see the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, who happened to marry in the same hall back in April 2005.
Is it true that Elton John and David Furnish have the same legal rights as Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles? They were able to book the same venue after all. Well according to Scotsman.com news , “Gay marriage is legal in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Canada. Britain has not gone that far, but the civil partnership will be marriage in all but name, granting legal rights virtually identical to those enjoyed by married couples.” Which means, gay couples may own property together without worry about an inheritance tax in the event of a partner’s death. They may both have legal parental rights. And if they want to dissolve the union they must apply for a divorce, the same as any married couple. Therefore the Civil Partnership Act does give couples the same “legal” rights as their heterosexual counterparts even though the UK didn’t go as far as saying gay couples could marry.
However Parliament may have only legalized a Civil Partnership Act instead of same sex marriage to protect the rights of others, in particular, the clergy of the Church of England. A report by the European Union stated, “If Parliament decides to legalize same-sex weddings, clergy will be forced to place the right of access to marriage of gay couples above their own moral convictions on the sanctity of the marriage.” U.K. Clergy Concerned Over EU Ruling on Same Sex 'Marriage'
In other words, the clergymen would have to officiate same sex weddings no matter what their personal feelings were on the matter. I believe same sex couples should be afforded all the legal rights as married couples. I don’t think this means squashing the rights of others to give it to them though. And I’m sure a gay couple wouldn’t ask a clergy to officiate their union, if they knew the clergyman was against gay marriage. Therefore I do not see a problem in calling a spade a spade. Still a same sex union gives gay couples the legal rights they’ve been seeking for decades, and it also allows those opposed to same sex marriage the view that these couples are not “sanctified” by the church.
Is this a step forward for gay rights? I’ll leave that question for the advocates of gay rights to answer. But what I do know is that over 1,200 couples took the opportunity to register a same sex union in the first month of its legalization alone. Those numbers do well in speaking for themselves.