The weather was unforgiving and the traffic unmoving in pre congestion charge London. We made our way slowly, and a little stressfully, in a cab to a rather small and dingey office at the French Consulate. It was there that we concluded our Pacte Civil de Solidarité. There was no ceremony, no witnesses, just the vice-consul and another member of staff, and Peter E who was charged with taking photos on our digital camera. We know that some friends must have wondered why we didn't invite them and we lived with the consequences of not having parents there for some years after, but we had no choice in the matter. It could have all been over in a matter of a couple of minutes as all we had to do was to sign the agreement giving us some,mostly financial, shared responsibilities. And yet we imbued the moment and the ensuing seven years with much much more: a stronger more indelible emotional tie; a feeling of acceptance; a sense of having been recognised officially. The slightly blurred photos are still on the wall in front of me as I type and I see them every day with fondness.
Of course, since then the French forerunner has been soundly lapped by full Civil Partnership with equality of rights across the board in the UK. In France they have extended PACS rights a little eg rights to tax exemption on inheritance were brought more into line with married couples, but there seems to be little on the horizon about progress from Civil Partnership Lite towards the kind of arrangement enjoyed by all France's neighbours.
OK, it's just a piece of paper, and yet it is so much more than that to us. We hope that one day in the foreseeable future it will also be that much more in law too.
Bon anniversaire chéri. Je t'adore toujours. XXX