Two months into the governmental coalition we have already seen evidence of some bold policy initiatives such as the graduate tax and bank levies. One such area of prospective radical change is gay marriage, which it has been promised will be put on equal footing with 'orthodox' marriage before the next general election. Indeed the Conservative party were the only party that committed themselves to changing the law on gay marriage. As with their promised spending cuts, their pledge on this issue does not appear to have been puffery but a sincere aspiration of the new 'liberal' Tory party. Last month, the coalition said it would be considering allowing religious rites to form part of the civil partnership process. Up until now many religious sects have been fervently resisting recognition of civil partnership as a proper matrimonial union. The current law is enshrined in the Civil Partnership Act which came into force in December 2005 affording gay/ lesbian couples legal recognition. At present gay marriage entails 'registration' of the civil partnership, not quite the same as a religious ceremony in all its splendour. Thus gay rights activists have long been campaigning for homosexual and heterosexual marriage to become completely homogenous. This is not to say that legally the Civil Partnership Act 2004 was not a big step for same sex couples. It gave homosexual couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples in the following areas: tax, employment benefits, some pension benefits, child support, tax credits, duty of maintenance, eligibility for compensation for partner's fatal accident and protection from domestic violence (source: www.direct.gov.uk). This week, a Californian judge ruled in favour of gay marriage; in his judgment commenting that gay marriage is unconstitutional. The UK has no constitution (much to the dismay of many Conservatives) but it seems the new government intends to take further steps towards marital equality. If you require any further information or wish to arrange a free initial & confidential consultation. please call us on 01245 228106 The above is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.