Heterosexual couples in England and Wales who wish to enter into a civil partnership will be able to do so by the end of the year.
A Private Members Bill, brought by MP Tim Loughton, has received Royal Assent meaning it will now become law, a move which has been heralded as a victory for equality.
As a result, opposite sex couples will now have the choice, formerly restricted to same-sex couples, of either picking a civil partnership, which brings the same legal rights as marriage, or tying the knot.
Mr Loughton said: “This has been a long and hard fought journey, but will be well worth it for the recognition and stability it will provide many thousands of mixed-sex couples.”
Change for the better
Baroness Fiona Hodgson, who took the Bill through the House of Lords, commented: “It was a privilege to steer this Bill through the Lords. I have had a huge mailbag from people who are desperate to have a civil partnership and I hope it changes many people’s lives for the better.”
The campaign to extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples was led by Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, from London.
They took their battle to be allowed a civil partnership, which brings entitlement to the same legal treatment in terms of inheritance, tax, pensions and next-of-kin arrangements as marriage, to the Supreme Court earlier this year.
The couple, who never wanted to marry, felt a civil partnership fitted their beliefs and ideologies far better and argued that being excluded from having a civil partnership was discriminatory.
The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 – which only applies to same-sex couples – was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
As a result the government looked again at this area of the law with Prime Minister Theresa May announcing last October that a change in the law would follow.