Yes, there are many responses out there but this one is mine.
Most of the interesting bits, where I will have said something different to someone else, are in Question 16 as that’s the “any other comments bit”. The language is slightly clunky due to their quite restrictive word limits and I would like to have said more, although I’ve actually ended up sending this via email as the Home Office site is down. If you’d like to response and have not done so far (You have until Thursday) but can’t because of web site issues, there is a copy of the consultation document handily mirrored by the other side, C4M (PDF link). If you don’t want to read through the whole thing to pick out the questions, they’re also reproduced right at the end.
Question 1: Do you agree or disagree with enabling all couples, regardless of their gender to have a civil marriage ceremony?
Question 2: Please explain the reasons for your answer. Please respond within 1,225 characters (approx. 200 words).
Even if Civil Partnerships and Marriage were legally identical, “Separate but equal” is not truly equal. Separation of the two institutions creates the impression of “second class citizens” in the thoughts of the general population, which can lead to more widespread discrimination. In this regard, the government should be setting the tone for the rest of the country to follow.
Failure to recognise marriage equally in the UK can also create unexpected and unintentional corner-cases in legislation. For example, I am aware of one British-born Trans person who does not have a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) and is currently resident in another country. They are legally married there to someone of the opposite gender, but lack of a GRC is not an issue because that country allows marriage regardless of the (legal) gender of the partners. They cannot obtain a GRC, because they are “married”/”civil-partnered”, and the other country would not recognise an interim GRC as grounds for divorce/annulment.
Basing marriage on one set of legislation, regardless of gender, would remove such problems.
Question 3: If you identify as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual would you wish to have a civil marriage ceremony?
Question 4: If you represent a group of individuals who identify as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual would those you represent wish to have a civil marriage ceremony?
This question doesn’t apply to me
Question 5: The Government does not propose to open up religious marriage to same-sex couples. Do you agree or disagree with this proposal?
Disagree – religious marriage should be opened up to same-sex couples
Question 6: Do you agree or disagree with keeping the option of civil partnerships once civil marriage is available to same-sex couples?
Agree (Also see answer to Question 16)
Question 7: If you identify as being lesbian, gay or bisexual and were considering making a legal commitment to your partner would you prefer to have a civil partnership or a civil marriage?
Question 8: The Government is not considering opening up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples. Do you agree or disagree with this proposal?
Disagree – civil partnerships should be opened up to opposite-sex couples (Also see answer to Question 16)
Question 9: If you are in a civil partnership would you wish to take advantage of this policy and convert your civil partnership into a marriage?
This question doesn’t apply to me
Question 10: Do you agree or disagree that there should be a time limit on the ability to convert a civil partnership into a marriage?
There shouldn’t be a time limit. (Careful answering this question, as there appear to be two versions out there depending on which document you have)
Question 11: Do you agree or disagree that there should be the choice to have a civil ceremony on conversion of a civil partnership into a marriage?
Yes, there should be an option
Question 12: If you are a married transsexual person would you want to take advantage of this policy and remain in your marriage while obtaining a full Gender Recognition Certificate?
Yes. (Although I am now divorced)
Question 13: If you are the spouse of a transsexual person, would you want to take advantage of this policy and remain in your marriage whilst your spouse obtained a full Gender Recognition Certificate? This question doesn’t apply to me
Question 14. Do you have any comments on the assumptions or issues outlined in this chapter on consequential impacts? Please respond within 1,225 characters (approx 200 words).
Question 15: Are you aware of any costs or benefits that exist to either the public or private sector, or individuals that we have not accounted for in the impact assessment? Please respond within 1,225 characters (approx 200 words).
Question 16: Do you have any other comments on the proposals within this consultation? Please respond within 1,225 characters (approx 200 words).
Q5: As noted, (2.12) “many faiths” view marriage as only mixed-sex, but not all and prioritising the views of some above others is discriminatory. There is already differing marriage legislation per religion & this could be continued, e.g. one option may be secondary legislation allowing some faiths the ability to conduct same-sex marriage. Those not supporting this would be unable to carry them out & thus could not be forced to.
Q6&8: Whatever is chosen, it should be equal, i.e. nothing open to same-sex couples not also available to mixed-sex couples. Also, creating anything gender-specific may cause problems for GRCs. Although legislation can handle unusual cases, the bureaucracy often can not, e.g. the intent with Interim GRCs was no break between an annulment & new relationship but this is not possible in practice.
Q10: Having a time limit would serve no purpose, and not every couple will necessarily be in a position to convert in a given time e.g. because they do not hear about it, no money, living abroad.
Other: The precise meaning of 2.30 (“we would not be in a position to reinstate their benefit contributions or entitlements from their original marriage“) is not clear. If backdated payments would be an issue, any previously annulled relationship should on restoration also restore full future state & private entitlements.
All prescribed wording and forms/certificates should also have a gender-neutral option. (E.g. Refer to partners as well as/instead of husband/wife)