Liverpool Law Review

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 1-12

First online:

Abolishing Marriage: Can Civil Partnership Cover it?

  • Sarah BeresfordAffiliated withLaw School, University of Lancaster
  • , Caroline FalkusAffiliated withBross Bennett Family Law Solicitors Email author 

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This paper argues that all adult intimate relationships should be regulated under one single statute. This statute should be the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (which currently applies to same sex couples). The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (which applies to opposite sex couples), should be repealed; it should not be amended to include same sex couples. There would, as a consequence, be no such thing as (legal) marriage. Marriage as a legal construct is a heterosexual and patriarchal institution and is therefore so fundamentally flawed it is beyond the possibility of successful reform or repair. The present system of having two distinct legal means of relationship recognition is akin to sexual apartheid and is therefore unsustainable in the long term. Having a legal system which recognises only one form of legal partnership would therefore formally end a discriminatory system. Despite its drawbacks, Civil Partnership does not have the same extent of symbolic and practical degree of flaws as Marriage.


Civil partnership Marriage Opposite sex Same sex