Civil partnerships: grandiose gays and low-key lesbians

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Two British psychologists who have been studying civil partnerships have concluded that gay men love a big day out.

Dr Victoria Clarke and Dr Elizabeth Peel are from University of the West of England, Bristol and Aston University, Birmingham.

They will present their research today, Friday 20 July, at the British Psychological Society’s Psychology of Women Section’s Annual Conference.

38 couples from the UK were interviewed and completed questionnaires.

“Same sex relationships are seen as devoid of gender and gendered power relations, however, lesbian and gay male couples’ accounts of, and approaches to, their own civil partnerships demonstrated the implicit gendered nature of civil partnerships,” they conclude.

It seems that gay men are much more open than lesbians to the idea of a ‘traditional’ wedding, taking on the trappings of heterosexuals.

Lesbian couples are more critical of the heterosexual patriarchal associations of marriage and often preferred low-key civil partnership ceremonies and stressed differences between heterosexual marriage and civil partnership.

They were conscious of over-doing the ceremony and were more critical of consumerism and materialism attached to the celebration.

Dr Peel explained: “Each couples expectations of the ceremony were influenced by their family relationships, class and available money.

“However, the gay men were more likely to feel comfortable and at ease with the traditional aspects and language of marriage compared to the lesbian couples.”

The number of marriages in Wales and England has actually fallen to the lowest point on record.

The drop in the number of couples tying the knot showed a 10% fall to 244,710 weddings in 2005, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

Other figures showed that 18,000 civil partnerships took place in the UK since they were introduced in December 2005 and the end of December 2006.

1,600 partnerships were formed each month between January and March 2006, falling to 1,500 between April and September and 800 between October and December.

60% of civil partners were male and they tend to be older than female civil partners.