Happy Chan-iversary

by on December 21, 2008  •  In Family law

Happy Chanukah! for all those of you who will be breaking out the candles tonight. And a special season's greeting to the Brits celebrating the civil union status introduced three years ago in the UK. Kick back – have a gin and tonic-ukah! as Adam Sandler would say.

The Economist reports that British same-sex couples, especially the guys, have more enthusiastically adopted the civil union mode than have couples in the U.S.:

By halfway through this year nearly 60,000 Britons had entered a same-sex union, giving them legal rights virtually identical to those of married couples. In contrast to their American counterparts, most British gays seem relaxed about not having the right to call their partnership a marriage. “It meant we could get the law through sooner. Changing the wording is not really a priority,” says a spokesman for Stonewall, a gay-rights lobby group. And speed is not everything: Denmark was the first country to recognise gay partnerships, in 1989, but still does not let them adopt children.

Gay couples getting hitched are older than straight ones: men are 43 on average and women 41, compared with 36 and 34 among straight couples (including those remarrying). And it seems that gay men are settling down in greater numbers than lesbians. Men have out-partnered women in every quarter since civil partnerships were introduced; in London last year nearly 75% of those contracted were between men. Some unions have already broken down; but so far male partnerships have proved less likely than female ones to end in dissolution.

One explanation offered for this bias is that lesbian identity has been shaped by an anti-marriage strand of feminism. But that seems to fall down elsewhere: in Vermont, for example, the first American state to offer comprehensive civil unions, about two-thirds of partnerships are between women. …[O]f those who have formed partnerships so far, a tenth of men and nearly a quarter of women were married before to someone of the opposite sex.

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