Theresa May has spoken of her pride in backing same-sex marriage as she pledged to introduce civil partnerships for heterosexual couples.
The Prime Minister said the move was for people who wanted to “formalise their relationship but don’t necessarily want to get married”.
Pro-marriage organisations say heterosexual civil partnerships would weaken marriage by creating a ‘marriage-lite’ alternative.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, Mrs May said she was “proud to sponsor the legislation that created equal marriage” and the latest proposal would give all couples “the same choices in life”.
The Government acknowledged there were “a number of legal issues to consider, across pension and family law”, and that ministers would consult on the issue.
Peter Tatchell said the news was “wonderful”.
Coalition for Marriage has previously warned: “The gold standard of commitment is marriage; with the declarations made in the presence of witnesses and the expectation of lifelong faithfulness”.
Heterosexual civil partnerships would only “weaken marriage by creating a two-tier system, offering a sort of marriage-lite option”.
Ciarán Kelly, a Deputy Director at The Christian Institute, has said civil partnerships give couples all the benefits of marriage without the responsibilities.
He has also stated that the change would not resolve the injustice faced by house-sharers such as the Utley sisters.
Virginia or Catherine Utley could have to sell their house when one of them dies because they are not exempted from Inheritance Tax.
They say the issue emerged with the introduction of same-sex civil partnerships because prior to that, marriage was the only union that provided certain legal advantages.
In June, the UK Supreme Court backed civil partnerships for heterosexual couples.
Judges ruled in favour of the case brought by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who argued that not allowing for heterosexual civil partnerships was incompatible with human rights law.
The Government said it would consider the judgment and has responded with today’s announcement.