I never thought I would sympathise with those who got teary-eyed with excitement over the royal wedding – who cares about two strangers signing a contract to not cheat on each other? – but perhaps we’re more similar than I thought: the news that Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan may soon be getting civil partnershipped is more exciting to me than many weddings of people who I’ve actually met.
Steinfeld and Keidan have been campaigning for this for years – as a heterosexual couple they had thus far been denied the opportunity to enter into a civil partnership, which applied only to same-sex couples. Because marriage is – unarguably – a sexist and patriarchal institution, they didn’t feel comfortable applying it to their relationship, but they also didn’t want to give up all the additional benefits and legal securities associated with it.
Civil partnerships in the UK are not historically a bastion of progressive views either: they were offered to gay couples as a consolation prize when a homophobic society deemed them unworthy of actual marriage. But at the very least it is a modern creation which allows for a rethinking of what love and relationships should be, and how we exist as partnered people in today’s world….
We should be outraged that it’s taken this long to offer people an alternative to marriage, and that it’s had to come from the Supreme Court rather than the government. But now that civil partnerships are legal perhaps it’s time to dispense with the concept of civil marriage ceremonies altogether. Those who have a true desire to buy into the religious origins of marriage can do so of their own volition, but our laws should not be based around a made-up concept which the capitalist machine has conned us into believing is about love.