Almost seven years after it first came into force, the Government has amended the Civil Partnership Act 2004. The amendment, which will become law on 31 January next year, adds no less than 50 types of overseas relationship to the list of those which can be treated as civil partnerships under the Act.
The additions, to Schedule 20 of the Act, include marriages and civil unions in a variety of US states such as California, Connecticut, and New York, as well as same sex relationships from such as countries as Mexico, Argentina, Sweden and Switzerland.
This amendment is a pretty solid government endorsement of an impression I have had for some time: that the momentum behind same sex unions is building impressively around the world. For all the lingering disapproval of the socially conservative and traditionally religious, it may soon be become impossible for them to hold back the tide. And hooray for that. Old fashioned prejudice has no place in the 21st Century. An equal society is a healthy society.
Gay marriage is particularly in the news at the moment. Across the Atlantic, three US states recently voted to legalise gay marriage – the very first time this once deeply controversial issue has won the popular vote in the country. And now the US Supreme Court is moving towards a possible reassessment of a federal law which denies gay couples the same financial and legal benefits as heterosexual unions.
Meanwhile, two Israeli politicians have just been granted the country’s first ever gay divorce, in spite of the fact that same sex marriages have no legal status in this religiously conservative country. According to report in The Telegraph, Professor Uzi Even and his partner of 23 years, Amit Kama, even ended up setting a possible precedent for heterosexual couples in Israel by bypassing the traditional rabbinical courts for their divorce.
Zvi Triger of the Ham Striks law school said:
“This is the first time in Israeli history a couple of Jews are obtaining a divorce issued by an authority other than a rabbinical court, and I think there is significant potential here for straight couples.”
Could further change be on the cards?
Elsewhere we read about high flying French journalist Valérie Trierweiler’s plans to attend the marriage of two gay friends once a planned law to legalise same sex unions in France is passed. Ms Trierweiler is the partner of French president François Hollande.
Days earlier former French First Lady Carla Bruni, the wife of former French president Nicholas Sarkozy, come out strongly in favour of same sex unions. She told Vogue Paris:
“I’m rather in favour because I have a lot of friends men and women who are in this situation and I see nothing unstable or perverse in families with gay parents.”
Intriguingly, she added:
“My husband is opposed for reasons linked to his political vocation, because he sees people as groups of thousands rather than people we know personally.”
Whatever M Sarkozy’s reasons for opposing gay marriage, I suspect his wife and Valérie Trierweiler have a stronger sense of the direction in which the wind is blowing. You won’t be surprised to hear, I’m sure, that polls show the majority of French people support gay marriage.