Christian party leader urges marriage rights for cohabiting and gay couples
In a move that differs from the position of leading Evangelicals, the leader of the Christian People's Alliance (CPA) has called for the extension of legal married rights to cohabiting couples as well as gay couples.
Speaking after the Government's announcement last week which proposed that gay and lesbian couples be given the same legal rights as married couples, Ram Gidoomal CBE, who is also the CPA's prospective London Mayoral candidate, called for legal recognition of other long-term relationships too.
The new Government proposals include pension and property entitlements if gay couples register their commitment in a civil ceremony. The moves will give next-of-kin rights in hospitals, allow gay couples to benefit from a dead partnerís pension and exempt them from inheritance tax on a partnerís home.
"The CPA understands the rationale behind the Government proposals but we are concerned that the present focus on gay "surviving partner" rights obscures an on-going injustice that needs to be remedied in the Statute Book for others in stable relationships who have no rights", said Ram Gidoomal.
"If a change in the law is made, then it must embrace all who are currently excluded from justice."
Ram continued; "We need to tackle the broader injustice issue of all who live together in long term relationships and while a change in the law would benefit gays in long-standing relationships, the CPA does not believe that this is primarily an issue of sexual orientation but of simple justice."
His statement however represents a different perspective from the Evangelical Alliance and Evangelical pressure group CARE (Christian Action Research and Education) who issued a joint statement last week saying that there should be no such change in the law. They said instead that issues of justice "should be considered on a case by case basis".
Both CARE and the Evangelical Alliance have also previously insisted that extension of rights to gay or cohabiting couples in this way would "undermine marriage".