Baroness Deech introduces equal marriage bill amendment to include carers and cohabiting family members

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Baroness Deech has introduced an amendment, which would add the provision to include cohabiting family members or carers in the bill to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

The amendment will be considered by peers when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, goes into its Report stage in the House of Lords on 8 July.

The chair of the Bar Standards Board already asserted during Committee stage that if same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, then cohabiting family members and carers should share the same rights, and tabled, before withdrawing a similar amendment.

The amendment specifically aims to extend civil partnership rights to “unpaid carers and those they care for, and   family members who share a house, who have cohabited for 5 years or more and are over the age of eighteen, and the case for creating a new legal status that would confer all the benefits of civil partnerships upon those mentioned in paragraph (a) without amending the criteria for eligibility for civil partnership.”

The amendment would make the bill protect carers and family members in “cases of long-term house-sharing”.

Baroness Deech spoke during the House of Lords debate, for its committee stage, to say that the European Court of Human Rights would be likely to support a challenge to civil partnership laws, if they were not opened up to pairs living in non-sexual relationships.

Baroness Deech’s previous amendment was also supported by Baroness Butler-Sloss, who said earlier this year that the Government should stop “faffing around with gay marriage”, and the Bishop of Ripon.