2nd April 2012
Civil partnerships are legalised
Although the law legalising civil partnerships on Jersey took effect on 2 April 2012, it had been voted on almost three years earlier. On 20 October 2009, the States Assembly voted 48 in favour, with one against and four abstaining, on the principle of allowing same sex couples to register their partnership, but it took until December 2011 for the resulting Bill to be signed off by the queen, and January 2012 for it to be registered by the Royal Court.
The member who voted against the proposal in 2009 was Senator Bryan Le Marquand, the minister for Home Affairs. He was concerned that the amount of drafting required to introduce same sex civil partnerships would take too long to rapidly improve the rights of same sex couples, such as who should be able to make decisions regarding a partner’s treatment when in hospital. Further, as noted in Hansard, he felt that the approach “ignores other long-term relationships such as same-sex friends who live together without a sexual relationship or long-term heterosexual relationships particularly with children outside of marriage”. He had been hoping that it “would be possible to create a level of legal recognition for a number of relationships, including homosexual relationships, below the level of marriage and yet providing the necessary safeguards… for these reasons, I am unable to support the proposition”.
Support from the church
The 2009 debate was significant and included several lengthy speeches. The Very Reverend RF Key, Dean of Jersey, was one of those who spoke. Having reminded the chamber that Christianity, Judaism and Islam characterise marriage as being between a man and a woman, he commented that “I think civil partnerships will certainly come, I think this legislation is the way to do it and I commend the Chief Minister for it… It seems to me, today, we should have our minds on a society that is united, that cares for all people, that is unafraid of its Christian and Judeo-Christian basis, but also which seeks to build a society of consensus and care and that does not engage in teaching the generations that come after us that we cannot work with those who are different from us; for that would be the denial of the fundamental love of God”.
A move to allow same-sex marriages was passed by a very similar margin in 2015, with 43 States Assembly members voting in favour and just one against. Jersey allows couples who previously entered into a civil partnership to convert this to a marriage, which will take effect retrospectively from the date of the original civil partnership.
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