Yes. It is that people have the opportunity to do it. I have a supplementary question on a subject that you all touched on in your previous answers. Are there other specific advantages of civil partnership compared to living together? If you think you`ve covered this before, I agree with that. From our point of view, it is important to give couples the opportunity to decide for themselves. Right now, we have a mixed system where some couples can choose between the two options and others cannot. We do not support that, and the bill seeks to improve the situation. I will ask the same question that I asked the previous witnesses. Prior to the introduction of mixed civil partnerships in Scotland, the bill provides that those who have entered into mixed partnerships abroad or in areas of the UK where mixed partnerships are already legal will be required as a transitional measure if amendments are made to the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill while you have been consulted. In that regard, will that affect what is currently in this bill? We must ensure that there is coherence between the two pieces of legislation. Obviously, it is at the interface between the NRS and the community.
This will not be a problem for a couple who are both Scottish. If they are members of the Jewish community, any cleric in their congregation is automatically recognized by the NRS as capable of marrying and, if desired, of making solemn civil partnerships. There are people who have excluded themselves from the marital landscape because they feel they do not fit in. Civil partnership gives them the opportunity to enjoy legal benefits that they would not receive because they do not want to get married. That can only be a good thing. When the measure is introduced for the first time, the number of couples wishing to enter into such a partnership may increase, and this could then decrease and normalise. If I may give a personal example, I have been a partner for 31 years. If one of us dies, or if we separate and there is a divorce, the law will only recognize 10 years of living together. This is a much more important issue than the differences between marriage and civil partnership. “Couples who want to have these extended legal rights without entering the institution of marriage should have the option of a civil partnership.” After all, many believe that the bill should have dealt with the conversion of marriages into civil partnerships.
In light of everything I have said, I would like to read the views of Mr. B and Ms. L – a couple who married only to protect their financial situation as they aged. They wrote: The bill repeats existing provisions for religious and philosophical organizations that may choose to register same-sex civil partnerships. We have gathered evidence to suggest that the bill may need to be amended to accommodate additional controls on Jewish clergy who cannot be represented by different branches of Judaism in Scotland. What do you think of this proposal? As you said, the bill repeats the provisions of the Civil Partnership Act, 2004. We believe that the existing exceptions in the Equality Act 2010 allowing religious and non-public bodies to oppose same-sex marriages would ensure that a religious or philosophical body that decides not to hold civil partnership ceremonies in general would not discriminate on the basis of sex or sexual orientation, for he would not offer this service to anyone. Mr Shirley-Anne Somerville tabled Amendment 10, which allows marriages to be converted into civil partnerships and which was supported by all parties. Your Amendment No 11 extended the recognition of marriages converted into civil partnerships to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which was supported unanimously. He also introduced some minor technical changes, which were also adopted across party lines. Amendments Nos 4 to 6 extend the provisions on registered partnerships, which should be maintained regardless of the change of sex of a member of the couple, as same-sex couples and mixed couples can now live in civil partnerships.
These amendments were supported by everyone. The bill also includes provisions on how certain areas of the law apply to mixed partners. In most cases, as I said, the bill does not distinguish between same-sex partners and mixed partners. However, there are areas of family law where the current provisions for life partners will not work because they were created on the assumption that the couple would always be of the same sex. In such cases, the bill follows what already applies to mixed married couples. Marriage is not for everyone. For some, it represents a religious or patriarchal baggage against which many protest. The legislation will correct an aberration in the legal landscape whereby the law recognizes a trade union. The bill provides legal and financial protection for both parties in the event of a relationship, similar to marriage and same-sex partnerships. I am pleased that this anomaly, which has existed in this country for 15 years, is now well on its way to being corrected by making marriages and civil partnerships accessible to couples, regardless of gender. The committee has looked at the bill from every angle and it is elegant in its simplicity. It is therefore likely that few, if any, changes will be required in Step 2, other than those on which the Minister has already commented.
We believe that the lack of legal rights for unmarried cohabiting partners is deeply gendered. The extension of the provision to mixed couples will therefore benefit the wives of couples who, for whatever reason, have chosen not to marry. Can you tell us something about your organizations, whether you support the general principles of the act, and what impact, if any, that will have on your organizations? Certainly. We have tried to ensure that the bill reflects what is already happening with same-sex civil partnerships. There are some legal differences between marriage and civil partnership, but there are not many. They can be divided into three sections: what happens when the relationship is created; what happens during the relationship; And what should happen if the couple decides to end the relationship.