By Terry Vanderheyden

LONDON, December 5, 2005 ( – Britain’s new civil unions law for same-sex couples, which grants them all the privileges of marriage and gives a powerful seal of approval to homosexual relations, comes into effect today. Same-sex couples who wish to register their unions can now indicate their desire to do so and, after a brief waiting period, make it formal on December 21.

The Civil Partnerships Bill, passed through parliament last year, means that same-sex couples are now entitled access to spousal-like benefits such as pensions, immigration, next-of-kin status, and an exemption on paying inheritance tax. A family law expert told the Sunday Times in 2003, when introduction of the new law was announced, that “The reform would in effect be virtually the same as marriage.”

Also included in the bill is the same alimony and child support responsibilities in the event of separation.

Liberal Judaism is the only UK religious group to officially sanction the new arrangement, offering a form of “wedding” for homosexuals who decide to register their unions.

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff, the Most Rev Peter Smith, condemned the new law. “What the Government should do in terms of public policy is support marriage rather than undermine it,” he said, as reported by the BBC. “To put beside marriage an alternative or what appears to be a perfectly approved legal alternative lifestyle I think does not help the institution of marriage at all.”

See related coverage:
  Queen to Announce British Gay Partnership Plan


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