To the point

Most forms for a Christian job IWI application (e.g. parish priest) will only have the following categories: Single, Married, Divorced, Widowed. I have entered into a civil partnership, which is private to me and my partner and my confessor. Can I /should I tick the ‘single’ box?

Your civil partnership cannot be an entirely private matter. A civil partnership is a declaration, albeit on paper, in the public forum, after public advertisement, intended to bring about public consequences (e.g. rights to pensions, succession to tenancies). Although these rights replicate, to a large extent, those which attach to marriage, a civil partnership is not a marriage.

It follows that (assuming that you are not divorced or widowed) you could tick the ‘single’ box on the basis that you are not married. However, the word ‘single’ can have a wider meaning. As a result of changes to the law made to accommodate civil partnerships, the word ‘single’ when entered in the ‘condition’ column of a marriage register means ‘not married nor having entered into a civil partnership.’ A priest (who is responsible for registering marriages at which he or she officiates) would be expected to know this, and so for a priest to tick the ‘single’ box on a job application, without qualification, might be thought to be less than frank.

The current standard Church of England job application form has the following categories: single; married; widowed; separated; divorced; remarried; married to partner who has been divorced.

If a person who had remarried were not appointed to a post and the successful applicant were a person in an undisclosed civil partnership which was sexually active, then it could be argued that the unsuccessful applicant had been discriminated against on the grounds of sexual orientation. The heterosexual has been asked to state his or her marital status and, in efFect, been asked whether he or she abides by the Church’s teaching on marriage. But the homosexual has not been asked about his or her status in a civil partnership nor whether he or she abides by the House of Bishops’ Statement on Civil Partnerships.