We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Dr. Nicola Barker; a lecturer in law and director of the LLM programme in Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights at Keele University, UK. She is author of Not the Marrying Kind: Feminist Critiques of Marriage and the Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships (forthcoming, 2011).
I was recently at an academic conference in Vermont, which was a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Vermont Civil Union and 1st anniversary of same-sex marriage in the state. Most of the conference participants were happy to celebrate marriage as an achievement of equality and access to numerous important legal rights (and responsibilities) of marriage. I can understand those sentiments, particularly in a country where access to health care may be dependent on the person one chooses as a spouse having employment benefits and spousal coverage, but I cannot join in the celebration. Likewise, I can understand the celebrations in Ireland following the introduction of civil partnerships but I do not share the jubilation.
Continue reading “Guest Post: Barker on Raining on the Civil Partnership Parade”
In this contribution to our blog carnival on the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, regular HRinI contributor Fiona de Londras considers the implications and burdens of introducing civil partnership without liberalising civil marriage.
It goes without saying that the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations Act 2010 is, in itself, a significant if not monumental piece of legislation for a country that only decriminalised male homosexual sex in 1993. However, even in the midst of the celebrations that rightly accompanied the passing and signing of the Act, it is appropriate to take pause and think about the implications and burdens of introducing a system of civil partnership without opening marriage up to same-sex couples.
One of the main objections to the failure to recognise same-sex relationships in Irish law was not only that it excluded people from a range of rights and obligations that attach to marriage (most of which are now attached to civil partnership), but also that recognising opposite-sex relationships without recognising same-sex partnerships constituted an inequality. In other words, it sent out a value-laden message from the State about what kinds of intimate adult connections are and are not worthy of recognition by the State. It is important to recognise that the introduction of civil partnership does not remove this inequality—it may lessen it somewhat; it may set in train a sequence of events in which it is eventually neutralised; but it does not remove it. Rather it constitutes the enshrinement of inequality in law without, in my view, the State properly having discharged the burden of proving that such inequality is justified. Continue reading “CPCROCA 2010: de Londras on Civil Partnership and (Marriage) Inequality”