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Human Rights and Domestic Partnerships: Have We Learned Anything?

Date:8 MAR 2007

Penny Booth Reader in Law and Peter Burke Staffordshire University Law School. 'Marriage is our society's fundamental institution for recognising the couple relationship and access to this institution is an equal rights issue'. This was one of the submissions in Wilkinson v Kitzinger and Her Majestys Attorney-General (The Lord Chancellor Intervening) [2006] EWHC 2022 (Fam). However it would seem that the common law definition of marriage the voluntary union for life of a man and a woman to the exclusion of others is deeply embedded into our religious and social culture. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 affirmed this in s 11(c) because the parties to a marriage must be respectively male and female. Article 12 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 states that men and women have a right to marry and found a family.

There is a growing tendency for European courts to give legal recognition to same sex relationships. This article considers whether access to the long-established institution of marriage - as opposed to the newly constructed civil partnership - for...

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