hail britannia

As states across the U.S. continue to move toward banning gay marriage and, in many cases, any legal protection for gay men and lesbians in long-term relationships, the rest of the world keeps moving forward.

The Observer reported yesterday that laws giving gay couples the equivalent legal recognition and rights accorded to marriage will be unveiled this coming Wednesday.

The first laws giving gay people the right to “marry” are to be unveiled this week in one of the most significant changes to Britain’s social make-up since the passing of equal opportunities legislation in the 1960s.

Attempting to show it still has a radical edge, the Government will say that all couples who sign up to a committed relationship should have the same rights, regardless of sexual orientation. …

Under the Civil Partnerships Bill to be published on Wednesday, same-sex couples will be able to sign a register held by the register office in a procedure similar to a marriage. Although the Govern ment will insist it is not officially a “marriage” but rather a contract between two people, the fact that couples will have to announce their intentions beforehand in a similar way to the reading of the banns before a wedding reveals its true effect.

Couples will have rights to pensions similar to married couples, will not have to pay inheritance tax on property passed between them when one dies and will have access to hospital records similar to that allowed for a spouse. …

A Whitehall source said it simply and best, “It is about equality. It is not about special favours–they will have the right to commit to one another and the responsibilities that brings.”

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