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Civil Partnerships 12 Years On

It was recently the 12-year anniversary of the UK's first civil partnership, what many regard as one of the UK’s most important steps in the gay community’s fight for equality in terms of rights and in terms of love. Over the past 12 years, the UK has made even further improvements to achieving greater equality for this community. As big supporters of the civil-partnership and same-sex marriage act, we take a look back at where it all started and how far we’ve come since.

The History

The civil partnership act had been debated and discussed in parliament for several years before it was first announced in the Queen's speech at the beginning of the 2003/2004 legislative session. The law and procedure stated that a civil partnership “is a relationship between two people of the same sex, formed when they register as civil partners of each other, which ends only on death, dissolution or annulment”, giving same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. Whilst not directly called ‘marriage’ many saw this as a marriage or closest thing possible.

Although the legislation was announced in 2003/04 the civil partnership ceremony didn’t become a legal practice until December 2005 and, with a whole year’s wait in between the legislation being announced and it becoming a practice, there was a build-up of anticipation for many couples. The first civil partnership took place on 5 December 2005, before the official start date, when a special dispensation was awarded to Matthew Roche and Christopher Cramp, from Sussex, to have the 15–day waiting time removed because Roche was suffering from a terminal illness. It was a historic moment, marked with a moment of sadness with Roche passing away the following day but, ultimately, was a moment that broke the seal of change and saw hundreds of couples in the following month become civil partners.

Civil Partnerships Are Celebrated

Since 2006, more than 60,000 civil partnerships have taken place, with
almost 30,000 taking place between 2006 and 2007. At Nailcote Hall, we
saw some fantastic celebrations during that time and were proudly one of
the first establishments to offer civil partnership ceremonies and receptions and continue to do so.

The Debate Around Civil Partnerships

During 2006, there were over the 15,000 civil partnership ceremonies in
the UK, and that number steadily decreased in the years that followed.
The main reason for their slight decline was due to the argument that,
whilst civil partnerships are a significant step in equal rights for
same-sex couples, it still wasn’t recognised as ‘marriage’ in a more
traditional sense. These partnerships were called 'gay marriages' by
some of the British media, however, the Government made clear that they
were not marriages, and this led to a widespread debate as to whether or
not civil partnerships were actually promoting equality or not.

Same Sex Marriage Becomes Law

In 2011, with public opinion in favour of same-sex marriage, there were several campaigns to finally make it a legal practice for same-sex couples to be wed. This is something that Nailcote were very supportive of at the time and are proud to say so. On 11 December 2012, the Minister for Women and Equalities, Secretary of State Maria Miller announced that the Government at the time would bring forward same-sex marriage legislation for England and Wales in early 2013. After a vote in the house of commons and input from the general public to gage opinion, legislation was put forward, granting the rights to same-sex marriage. Those couples in civil partnerships could also transfer their partnerships to marriages if they wish. It was a long road to achieve this feat and the first wedding ceremonies took place in March 2014 and have continued to take place every year since.

At Nailcote we have hosted countless same sex weddings and civil partnerships and we are always delighted to welcome couples and their guests. For more information about holding your Wedding or Civil Partnership ceremony at Nailcote Hall, please get in touch with our Weddings Team.

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