By Tatchell, Peter
New Statesman (1996) , Vol. 132, No. 4645
The same-sex civil partnership scheme -- announced by the equalities minister, Jacqui Smith -- will remedy many of the injustices faced by lesbian and gay couples. But the scheme is heterophobic and homophobic. It is not available to unmarried heterosexuals and is a second-best version of marriage. Instead of marriage-lite for same-sex lovers, the government should have taken the opportunity to create a legal framework of partnership recognition that applied to gays and straights and which remedied the deficiencies of marriage law.
I propose a Civil Commitment Pact that would allow people to nominate as next-of-kin and beneficiary any "significant other" in their life. This could be a lover, but it could also be a sister, carer, nephew or best friend. Many non-sexual friendships are as sincere, loyal and enriching as relations between people in love. With one in two marriages ending in divorce, and a quarter of households comprising single people, friends play an increasingly important role in people's lives. It is wrong to discriminate against friends who have a strong bond just because they are not married and do not have sex.
Any two people who share a close, deep bond ought to be eligible for reciprocal legal rights. …