Northern Ireland’s first civil partnership ceremony

Thirty protesters turned up outside the City Hall to protest Northern Ireland’s first civil partnership ceremony at the City Hall this morning (sound file from Angelique Christafis). For once, Northern Ireland is somewhat ahead of the curve, since most ceremonies in England and Wales won’t take place until Wednesday.

Slugger photos here, from Charlotte!!The Civil Partnership Act 2004 gives gay and lesbian partners the legal means to be recognised should anything happen to the other, in terms of property and financial rights. It is becoming increasingly common across the world. According to Wikipedia the difference with hetrosexual marriage is slight:

* A civil partnership becomes legal on the signing of a register, rather than on the speaking of certain words as with marriage.

* It will not be possible to dissolve a civil partnership on the grounds of non-consummation or adultery, although both non-consummation and adultery can be grounds for dissolution of the partnership as they fall under the provision for unreasonable behavior.

* The legal definition of a traditional marriage is “life long” whereas the wording of civil partnerships is “long term” and “intended to be permanent”.

There are about 700 ceremonies due to take place throughout the UK, although the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in the west of Scotland has banned any such ceremonies taking place, which has led to an interesting stand off.

There’s no sign yet of such provisions coming into force in the Republic. The Taoiseach is favour, as is the Minister of Justice. But as it stands, anything that even indirectly challenged the status of marriage would require a constitutional amendment.

It’s been mooted that a compromise deal that would allow two individuals in any relationship (eg elderly mother and carer daughter) to tie their financial and property affairs together, ie that could not be construed as an alternative to marriage, could be put through without such an amendment.

Adds: a reasoned Anglican argument against CPs.

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