Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the British government will comply with a Supreme Court ruling in April that extends civil partnerships to non-gay couples in England and Wales.
Civil partnerships were devised for gay couples in 2004 under Labour PM Tony Blair. The government under Conservative PM David Cameron opened marriage to gay couples in 2013 while keeping civil partnerships as an option for them as well. Different-sex couples continued to be barred from them.
Veteran gay activist Peter Tatchell led an Equal Love campaign to make civil partnerships open to all. Plaintiffs Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan sued for the right to one and prevailed at the high court this year.
“Marriage comes with historical, religious, and gendered connotations — this offers a blank canvas,” Steinfeld told the BBC.
A Conservative member of Parliament is proposing that elderly siblings who live together for mutual support be allowed into civil partnerships as well — giving them the chance to avoid estate taxes and hold onto their homes when one of them dies.
Some US states and many corporations ended recognition of domestic partnerships once marriage became available to their residents and employees. New York City, where the majority of domestic partners are in heterosexual couples, has retained them.