Majorities support allowing heterosexual civil partnerships and same sex marriages – but only one in twenty want to be in a civil partnership, while three in four want to be married
Conservative MP Tim Loughton, who voted against the Same Sex Marriage Bill, has tabled an amendment to the legislation that would allow heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships. Civil partnerships give couples the same legal rights as civil marriage and have been available to same sex couples since 2005.
There is a review of the Same Sex Marriage Bill scheduled for 2019, but Loughton has said the government cannot wait until then to fix the "glaring inequality" on civil partnerships. Tory MP Maria Miller has called the change a "wrecking" amendment intended to kill support for the Bill, however, and government ministers have claimed the change would cost £4 billion and delay same sex marriages for up to two years.
A new YouGov poll reveals a majority (64%) of Britons support extending access to civil partnerships to straight couples. With 73% supportive, those who class themselves as "Heterosexual and in a relationship" are particularly likely to back the proposed change.
Still, marriage remains the more popular institution. Nearly three-quarters of the public (74%) would prefer to be married to someone "in an ideal world", compared to one in twenty (5%) who would prefer to be in a civil partnership.
Same sex marriage
On Friday, Philip Hammond suggested there was "a real sense of anger” in England over same sex marriage, just as David Cameron promised he would look at making civil partnerships available to all couples to satisfy Loughton and other Conservative MPs.
Same sex marriage legislation wins majority (54%) public support, with 36% in opposition. More Conservatives oppose the measures than support them, but at 48% to 45%, the margin is narrow.
Only 7% of voters cite same sex marriage as one of the three or four most important issues in deciding how to vote in the next election, and there is little variation amongst supporters of different parties.
Of the voters that do prioritise the same sex marriage issue, 58% – including 28% of Conservative voters in this group – say they would be more likely to vote for the party that supports same sex marriage legislation.
The Same Sex Marriage Bill passed the House of Commons in February 2013 with 400 votes to 175, a move Cameron called “an important step forward”. The Bill is scheduled to have its report stage in Parliament on 20 May 2013 and its third reading the next day.