UK - Oliver Letwin, the Conservative shadow home secretary, has attacked the Civil Partnerships Bill, labelling it "both wrong and unnecessary".
Letwin claims that while the Bill does attempt to redress some of the problems facing unmarried couples - such as entitlement to survivor benefits from occupational pension schemes - it creates a “watered-down variant” of marriage that would undermine the institution and increase government intrusion into the lives of the public.
“Marriage is clear cut, whereas weaker alternatives would involve the State inquiring into the length or type of people’s relationships,” he claimed.
The Bill, sponsored by Liberal Democrat Lord Lester of Herne Hill, would create a civic partnership register, a new legal entity. The Bill would confer upon cohabiting couples property and pension rights currently only available to married couples.
According to Letwin, creating a civil register to provide those rights is unnecessary as there is a ready made solution - marriage: “There is no need to create a separate category of registered civil relationships for mixed couples, because anyone seeking those rights can attain them by marrying.”
Despite his opposition to the Bill, Letwin claimed that the Conservatives would find ways to attend to the “genuine” grievances of homosexual couples.
“The way to address these real concerns is not to invent a pale imitation of marriage,” he said. “They require particular, practical solutions - some of which may be legislative, others administrative. We [the Conservatives] have a duty to address them and we intend to do so.”
By Geoffrey Ho
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