Tory MP thinks its ‘unfair’ to deny civil partnerships to straight people – but voted against gay marriage

His commitment to equality only stretches so far


‘It is unfair and illogical to deny someone a civil partnership just because they happen to be straight,’ Tory MP Tim Loughton writes in the Telegraph today, criticising this court of appeal morning’s ruling that heterosexual couples are not entitled to civil partnerships.

Like Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, Loughton considers this an ‘equality question’ and has been campaigning for straight couples to enjoy this particular form of equality for several years.

But strangely, given his supposed commitment to equal rights, Loughton voted against allowing same-sex couples to marry in 2013.

He also voted against making same sex marriage available to armed forces personnel outside the UK, against the expansion of gay adoption rights and against equalisation of the age of consent. In fact, the only expansion of LGBTQ rights Loughton has ever voted for was — you guessed it — the civil partnership bill.

Indeed, when the question of same-sex marriage arose in 2013, Loughton’s opposition hinged on the fact that civil partnership was already available to same-sex couples and, as such, they were equal in all meaningful senses.

‘I do not claim that my church marriage is superior to another member’s civil partnership,’ he told the House of Commons.

“It is not; it is equal in the eyes of the law and society, just different. Let us get away from the basis that we need things to be the same to be equal. It is not the same thing.”

So why, if civil partnerships and marriage are essentially interchangeable, is Loughton now so concerned that straight couples have access to both options?

There is a dog whistle being blown here. While Steinfeld and Keidan’s case is a reasonable one, Loughton’s argument is simply that if gay people have something, straight people must have it too. That civil partnerships — which only exist because conservatives weren’t willing to extend marriage rights in 2004 — are some kind of LGBTQ privilege.

Loughton also uses the article to explain that ‘civil partnerships are beginning to show evidence of greater stability for same-sex couples, including those who have children through adoption for example.’

In other words, he’s glad that civil partnerships have domesticated gay people, reducing the threat they pose to their adopted children (whom he thinks they shouldn’t have been given in the first place).

The Steinfeld-Keidan case is a reasonable one, and there’s a common-sense appeal of their argument. But their case shouldn’t provide a platform for social conservatives to trumpet their commitment to equality, while insidiously undermining LGBTQ people.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

See: The Tories believe the gender pay gap is a problem – they just won’t do anything to fix it

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4 Responses to “Tory MP thinks its ‘unfair’ to deny civil partnerships to straight people – but voted against gay marriage”

  1. David Lindsay

    There is a perfectly reasonable case for civil partnerships to be available to opposite-sex couples. It is not as if those couples would otherwise be getting married. Never having needed to be consummated, civil partnerships ought not to be confined to unrelated same-sex couples, or even to unrelated couples generally. That would be a start, anyway.

    Any marrying couple should be entitled to register their marriage as bound by the law prior to 1969 with regard to grounds and procedures for divorce, and any religious organisation should be enabled to specify that any marriage that it conducted should be so bound, requiring it to counsel couples accordingly. Statute should specify that the Church of England and the Church in Wales each be such a body unless, respectively, the General Synod and the Governing Body specifically resolved the contrary by a two-thirds majority in all three Houses. There should be similar provision relating to the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, which also exist pursuant to Acts of Parliament, as well as by amendment to the legislation relating to the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy.

    Entitlement upon divorce should be fixed by Statute at one per cent of the other party’s estate for each year of marriage, up to 50 per cent, with no entitlement for the petitioning party unless the other party’s fault were proved.

    Am I trying to go back to the 1950s? To which features of the 1950s, exactly? Full employment? Public ownership? The Welfare State? Council housing? Municipal services? Apprenticeships? Free undergraduate tuition? All of those things were bound up with things like this. That they have all been eroded or destroyed together has not been a coincidence. It is not called neoliberalism for nothing.

  2. Jimmy Glesga

    I fell in love with a sheep which kept me warm during cold nights. I could not leave dolly anything in my will but was satisfied I could have some of her tender lamb chops when it was her time.

  3. Alma

    LOL Jimmy! I am still reading the Bible and I remember a couple of times references of Sodom and Gomorrah. Wonder why? Anyway, please don’t marry your vibrator!

  4. John Reid

    I seem to recall, that some radical feminists, or gay rights people like Julie binder, Rupert Everett were against gay marriage, as marriage is oppressive,wanted straight marriage scrapped,and let everyone just hwve civil partnerships, that was there is no dominant, one

    And it’s just an agreement over a couple, letting in have the pension if the other dies

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