Are the Conservatives still the pro-marriage party?

Of all the parties across the political spectrum, the Conservative Party has always been seen as the one most likely to champion marriage and the family. Its very name points to tradition, the desire to conserve the best aspects of our civilisation and culture against whatever new “ism” threatens our way of life.

That seems no longer to be the case. The most recent evidence for this is the announcement by Theresa May that heterosexual couples who do not wish to marry can obtain all the fiscal benefits and protections of marriage if they enter into civil partnerships.

The Prime Minister made this announcement at the Conservative Party conference, with the hint that it was another clever remedy for the “nasty party” brand she is so keen to shake off.

Essentially, it will mean that with the simple signing of a legal document, a cohabiting heterosexual couple may obtain the same inheritance, property and pension rights that are reserved for married couples and same-sex couples in civil partnerships.

Supporters of marriage were alarmed. Sharon James from the Coalition for Marriage said in a statement: “The gold standard of commitment is marriage; with the declarations made in the presence of witnesses and the expectation of lifelong faithfulness. Civil partnerships just don’t offer that and will weaken marriage by creating a two-tier system, offering a sort of marriage-lite option.”

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