The law on civil partnership was passed in the twilight years of Tony Blair’s second New Labour government. Things had got better in some respects and Britain had become a more inclusive society. Around Europe, more and more countries were introducing similar laws allowing gay couples to formalise their relationships. Five years earlier, on the other side of the channel, France had enacted its ‘civil solidarity pact’ law, which allowed all couples – gay or straight – to get hitched. By contrast, Britain’s civil partnership has only ever been available to same-sex couples.

More than 20 years on, this inexplicable...

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