My Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill 2017-19 has passed Third Reading and so overcome a major parliamentary hurdle and is well on its way to becoming law.
The Bill will extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, provide greater protections for parents who experience stillbirths and add the names of mothers on marriage certificates. During the debate at Third Reading, I proposed an amendment to bind the government to bringing forward the extension of civil partnerships by the end of 2019, meaning that opposite-sex couples would be able to enter into a civil partnership by the end of 2019. The amendment was agreed without a vote and the Bill passed its Third Reading.
Crucially the Bill now obliges the Government to have brought into effect new laws to extend civil partnerships within 6 months of the Bill becoming an Act. Effectively that means that Civil Partnerships will be available for opposite-sex couples before the end of 2019 if approved by the House of Lords, which will now be the focus of debate in coming months.
I am delighted that the Bill has been passed with my amendment that has established a clear timeline for delivering the extension of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples many months after the Supreme Court put the Government on notice for failing to correct the unintended inequality that exists in our law, whereby same-sex couples can get married and enter into a civil partnership, whilst opposite-sex couples are confined to marriage.
My amendment was designed to be helpful to the Government and encourage them to get on with delivering their own stated policy, which the Prime Minister herself announced during Conservative Party conference earlier this month. Since the Supreme Court’s announcement, it has been clear the direction government policy would need to move in but there was growing frustration with the lack of timetable or indeed urgency. This is a major step forward for the Equal Civil Partnership campaign, I am delighted that the Government have effectively acknowledged that this must now become law urgently. I hope the House of Lords will see the groundswell of support behind this measure and make it as easy as possible for the Bill to pass its final hurdles in the Lords.