When the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act passed in 2013 the issue of whether straight people should be allowed to enter into a civil partnership was quietly left to one side.
Given that civil partnerships were brought in by Tony Blair’s government in part to avoid having to call gay marriage “marriage”, it is understandable that many felt straight couples would have no need for the newfangled contract.
Yet this week Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan will dispute the government’s ban on straight civil partnerships in the Royal Courts of Justice, arguing that the discrimination breaches their rights to family life.
Gay marriage is backed by a greater proportion of Catholics than Protestants in Britain, as a divide emerges between the two branches of Christianity on the shifting role of marriage.
In a YouGov survey half of Catholics said they supported gay marriage compared to 40 percent that opposed it, while 47 percent of Protestants opposed same-sex marriage, two percent more than those that supported it.
Whilst the Catholics were more liberal on the marriage issue, Protestants emerged as more more accepting of assisted dying, or euthanasia. But the picture on abortion was more complex still:
Abortion and euthanasia remain controversial subjects for the religious, with many believing that the power to give and take life should be left in the hands of their imaginary friend (almost all other forms of medicine notwithstanding. But nobody said religion was consistent).
Whilst reducing the current 24-week limit for abortions does not curry support among Britons, the Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt said back in 2012 that he wishes to halve the limit to 12 weeks.
At present the government has no plans to allow assisted dying for terminally ill, though the idea is widely supported.
Image Credit – Westminster Cathedral, August 2007 by Bernard Gagnon