PAUL Brownsey (Letters, August 13) explains that he thinks that civil partnership is now of no real value. It is true that the legal responsibilities and rights of civil partnership and marriage are almost identical. However, the personal, symbolic, social and cultural meanings of the two are different for many people.

The Equality Network campaigned for years for equal marriage because of that difference. It is unfair to limit marriage to mixed-sex couples and civil partnership to same-sex couples, because they are different, with different status.

Many feel that marriage is the gold standard, but others strongly prefer civil partnership. There are many unmarried mixed-sex couples who would like a civil partnership. Following the introduction of same-sex marriage, one in 10 same-sex couples who register their relationship are still choosing civil partnership instead of marriage. If civil partnership were opened to mixed-sex couples, even if a smaller proportion chose it, the numbers of civil partnerships each year would exceed the rate of the past decade. The demand is there.

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Mr Brownsey suggests that the authorities should not have the burden of coping with civil partnership to satisfy a demand from a minority of people. If civil partnership did not already exist, he might have a point. But the law is well established, and will need to be maintained and updated for at least another 60 years to accommodate the civil partnerships that already exist. Opening that law to mixed-sex couples is straightforward - the Isle of Man did it a few weeks ago, for example.

Mr Brownsey's position is "I personally consider there to be no value to civil partnership, so I want it abolished for everyone." Our position is "civil partnership exists, works well, and there is continuing demand, so let's keep it as a choice, and make it fairly available to all".

Tim Hopkins,

Equality Network, 30 Bernard Street, Edinburgh.