Since 2004 same-sex partnerships have been able to form civil partnerships, giving them the same rights and responsibilities as a civil marriage. While the civil partnership has established equity in matters of inheritance tax, pensions and social security, ensuring that same sex couples are not discriminated against socially is a matter of good manners.
- Sexual preference is a private matter, so never explicitly ask someone if he or she is gay.
- Same sex couples can help iron out any ambiguities by making introductions, to 'my partner'.
- Never make anyone's sexuality a matter of comment in a social context - it's discriminatory, in bad taste, and may cause offence.
Civil Partnership Ceremonies
Pragmatism should be the order of the day. Important changes in
societal attitudes can take a long while to become fully
established. Accept that, for some people, civil partnerships are
challenging and contentious, and try your best to negotiate these
If you have been invited to celebrate a civil partnership, you should, first and foremost, consider the feelings of the couple. If you are uncomfortable with the concept, don't go - whatever your attitude, it is their day of celebration and they deserve the uncritical approval and happiness of those around them.
Likewise, if you are inviting friends and family to your own civil partnership, consider the guest list carefully: you may think your elderly uncle should be there, but if he's going to be uncomfortable and potentially homophobic to your friends then perhaps he's better left off.
Once accepted, the etiquette surrounding such an occasion is determined largely by the couple themselves: they will tell you how closely they are conforming to a traditional wedding day, and whether you should dress in conventional garb, throw confetti, give wedding presents, and so on.
Civil Partnership: Forms of Address
Same-sex couples who have registered a civil partnership are permitted to change or hyphenate their surnames to indicate their legal union.
The civil partnership certificate is accepted as documentation
allowing names to be changed. There is no requirement that either
party change their name when entering into a civil
Civil partners of male peers or knights do not receive a courtesy title to which the spouse of a peer or knight would be entitled.
Joint forms of address would typically be one of the following:
- John and James Debrett
- John and James Debrett-Manners
- John Debrett and James Manners