It is interesting. I recorded a television interview this morning with a couple who have been together for 26 years; they have teenage children and, for a variety of reasons, do not want to get married. They travelled to the Isle of Man, which is the only part of the British Isles that recognises civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples, and have become the first couple from mainland UK to have a civil partnership through the Isle of Man. Obviously, it is not recognised in the UK proper.
They made a very interesting point. They said, “We want to show our commitment in the eyes of the state. We want the stability and the protection, and the legal protections, that we just don’t have as a cohabiting couple, but marriage is not right for us. If we are going to be forced into a marriage as the only way of getting that legal protection, we would effectively be undermining marriage, because we would be doing it for the wrong reasons.” Civil partnership is a way to show that commitment and get the protections without having to conform in a way that they do not believe in.
Whether we agree with them, that is their right. Surely in an age when families take many different forms, the key thing that the state should be interested in is doing whatever creates stability and the best opportunities for loving couples to thrive and for children, when they are involved, to be brought up in a stable environment. This is surely another opportunity to get more people to be able to take advantage of such a situation.