The Civil Partnership Act 2004 enables same-sex couples to enter into a status that provides very many of the same rights and responsibilities that married couples have in respect to each other and the wider community. This paper first considers the extent of the legal similarities between civil partnerships and marriage; that is to what extent civil partnerships are 'same-sex marriage' in practical effect. Secondly it considers to what extent the conceptual understanding of civil partnerships within the Act reflects the current conception of marriage within English law; that is the extent to which civil partnerships are 'same-sex marriage' in theory. Thirdly, and finally, some of the specific dilemmas for the Church of England in the light of this are considered.
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