The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill has been signed into law. The Bill, as presented by Tim Loughton has altered not just the options available to couples deciding how to formalise their relationship, but it has also updated other elements to bring the bill up to date.
The bill enables the government to change the law so that opposite-sex couples can form a civil partnership. This proposal was met with all sorts of objections in the first instance, and took a couple taking the matter to Court for there to be a real acceptance that there was an imbalance in the law. Regardless of gender you can now decide whether you want to get married or form a civil partnership. From a technical legal point of view it doesn't make much of a difference because the law that deals with the financial distribution on separation is the same for civil partnerships and marriages. The issue was how it felt to the individuals making the decisions on the outset of their relationship and it is completely right that the same options should be available to everyone.
The other change is that the parties' mothers' names will now be included on the certificate of marriage or civil partnership. At the moment in the UK it's just the fathers' name and occupations that are recorded.
The final two changes being brought about affect the registration of still-birth babies and the investigation into these deaths by the coroner.
These are some hard hitting and important changes and are welcomed to show that the law is reflecting the changes in society and is being as compassionate as it can be in difficult situations.