Nicholas Bamforth. Should marriage and civil partnerships be seen as parallel institutions for all major civil purposes? Although the Civil Partnership Act 2004 represents recognition of the importance of stable and committed same sex relationships, there is a symbolic message sent by having separate regimes for same sex and opposite sex couples. Is it acceptable to maintain marriage and civil partnerships as mutually exclusive institutions for opposite sex and same sex couples respectively under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950? This article considers the nature and legitimacy of the distinction between marriage and civil partnership, looking in detail at the provisions of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, the implications of relevant cases which have come before the European Court of Human Rights and the reasoning given in Wilkinson v Kitzinger  EWHC 2022 (Fam),  1 FLR 296 for maintaining the distinction. Can a successful future challenge to the distinction be ruled out? Read the full article in Child and Family Law Quarterly, Vol 19, No 2, 2007.