England and Wales to say “I do” on same-sex marriage after US Ruling?


8 July 2014

By Farhad Islam

The recent ruling in the US Supreme Court focused primarily around the issue of certain federal benefits not being available to people in a same-sex union, compared with those who are married.  The Supreme Court found such laws discriminated against same-sex couples.

In a second ruling, they upheld a lower Court’s ruling which dismissed California’s ban on same-sex marriage, paving the way for same-sex marriage being legalised within 13 US States and the District of Columbia.  Whilst symbolically this may seem to be a victory for same-sex couples, in reality the US would still appear to be a long way themselves from fully legalising same-sex marriage within all States.

The rulings have, however, reignited the debate regarding the laws on same-sex marriage that exist within England and Wales, and whether there will be a response similar to that of the US.

The idea of legalising same-sex marriage is not a new revelation and is something that has been argued for some considerable time.  It has become a much more high-profile issue in recent months, however, with arguments from both sides of the debate being well-publicised within the media.

Presently, it is illegal in England and Wales for a same-sex couple to get married.  Instead, they must enter into a Civil Partnership if they wish to have their union recognised in law and have similar rights to those who are married.

In reality, it seems unlikely that the US Supreme Court’s rulings will have any effect on our laws.  The arguments for and against same-sex marriage could form several articles in themselves, but it is clear the two sides of the debate have become firmly established.  The issues raised in the rulings from the US do not appear to bring anything new to the table that would not have already been considered by either side to the argument.  It seems inevitable that both arguments will perpetuate, with the Government ultimately having the unenviable task of determining whether same-sex marriage should be legalised or not.

For the time being therefore, it will remain the case that same-sex couples can only enter into a Civil Partnership and this would seem likely to remain for the foreseeable future.

If you wish to discuss the implications of a Civil Partnership, whether its creation or dissolution, please do not hesitate to contact our resident specialist, Steven Payne on 01245 228106 or paynes@gepp.co.uk.