Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Time for some controversial debate

Some of you may remember that a while back, in one of my posts, I was somewhat cynical about the new Civil Partnership act.

Far from being 'gay marriage' in everything but name, this act was supposed to bring equality for all. I argued that if this truly was the case then steps should also be taken to improve the situation for other people for whom 'marriage' would be inappropriate; siblings who live together, for example.

I was shot down, but upon viewing this video on the BBC News Page, I developed the smug feeling that I might have been right after all. (If you are unable to view the video, it concerns two sisters who share a house. Even under the Civil Partnerships act if one of them dies the other will be forced to sell up and move to pay the inheritance tax).

It seems that the campaigners for the Act were wrong. It didn't bring 'equality for all', did it?

7 comments:

dave said...

Hardly controversial debate, two things are certain in life, death and taxes.

Also complaining about gay marriage is never going to get you anywhere, the minority never wins. If anything just keep it to yourself so you don't embarass yourself over dinner some time or something. I have to keep my attraction towards Billie Piper to myself mostly.

JP said...

Suggesting that I might like to keep my views to myself is surely a bit intolerant for people like your good self.

Anyway, in this post I was not complaining per se about gay marriage. I was just making a point about the way in which the Civil Partnerships had been 'sold'. If it had been officially referred to as gay marriage, it would at least have been honest. However when it was passed it was taboo to refer to it as such, and anyone who dared complain about gay marriage was criticised for not allowing equal rights for everybody. But as the video I referred to shows, it didn't result in equal rights for everybody, just marriage rights for the minority of the population who happen to be homosexual. Now of course you could argue that that is a step in the right direction, but that is not where my complaint lies.

My complaint lies with the fact that before the act was passed, a lot of emphasis was placed on the need for everyone to have equal rights, and yet now that it has been passed no-one seems to care that many people are still disadvantaged.

If I had simply shrugged my shoulders when someone complained that gay people were denied marriage rights I would have been crucified for my intolerance. And yet, somehow, it is acceptable for the likes of yourself to shrug you r shoulders in response to the video above and say "that's just the way of the world". How, I ask, is that fair?

dave said...

"My complaint lies with the fact that before the act was passed, a lot of emphasis was placed on the need for everyone to have equal rights, and yet now that it has been passed no-one seems to care that many people are still disadvantaged."

Many people are disadvantaged? You've given one example. The Civil Partnerships was never sold as being Civil Partnerships, it was the gay marriage act, end of. Every paper referred to it as gay marriage, you just can't use gay marriage in the document of an act as gay doesn't necessarily describe homosexuality.

Your opinions are valid and I don't mind you having them, but I was just forewarning you that if ever you let them out at a dinner or something you could make a bit of a tit of yourself. See after-dinner speakers making a tit of themselves.

JP said...

"it was the gay marriage act, end of"

That may be so, and I have always viewed it as that. My point is nothing to do with that. Rather it stems from an observation that any comment or criticism of the Act thereof resulted in a lot of whinging as people said "it is high time we had equal rights for all" and yet now that these people have what they want, equal rights for all seems less of a concern.

Incidentally, thank you for your kind warning. However, given that I have not stated my views it is based on something of an assumption, and I feel it is a bit strange that in this so-called tolerant society I have to take great care not to deviate from an accepted viewpoint.

Mugford said...

'Fights for equal rights' have always been like that though. The people who are bothered about not having said rights argue their case with such arguements, get what they want and then are satisfied, continuing the struggle no further. When enough people want incestuous marriages, they too will fight for this right under the banner of 'equality'. Equality will never occur as we're all diferent, but still we shall fight for it just the same because people believe that it's a good thing.

People are selfish at heart and fight for what they want. Additional support then comes from those who feel bad about being selfish so support such things as 'equality'. Once we've overcome one thing that's usually enough. Saving the world one plastic bag at a time.

Although it's not ideal, it is such. When enough people feel as you do JP, something will be done about it.

Chris said...

Re: mugford

Isn't that a fundamentally reckless way of doing things? Democracy, far from being the best and most sensible way of running things, sounds more like the most ridiculous.

You're right that the competing desires and emotions of people result in these things happening - which is why we should really go back to a system with a stronger Monarchical role. We need a dispassionate friend of stability, someone who rules rather than leads, to avoid all this horrible upending every few years, or whenever enough people get agitated about something, no matter the validity or justice of their claim.

Jordan said...

Hi JP,

"Far from being 'gay marriage' in everything but name, this act was supposed to bring equality for all."

You are incorrect; this was never the intent of the Bill. From the initial consultation, it was clear that the key aim of the Civil Partnership Bill was to extend the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage to committed same-sex couples.

The most vocal proponents of extending the rights of the Civil Partnership Bill to gay couples are the Christian Institute. Their main goal was to prevent the Bill's passage entirely, but it is fascinating to observe that this organisation, previously unconcerned (or at least silent) about the plight of cohabiting carers or siblings, was suddenly overcome by tender sensitivity when the legal recognition of gay relationships started to look imminent. In fact, it is no coincidence: the CI have consistently contested the right of gay couples to have their relationships recognised by law, and do not go to pains to disguise their true intentions in modifying the Bill. However, the package of rights and responsibilities outlined in the Bill is not, and was never designed to be, suitable for cohabiting siblings, friends or carers—rather, they are modelled after those available through civil marriage. The Bill would not cater for more than two individuals who wished to enter into such a contract (e.g. three siblings), and specify conditions for dissolution which are broadly based on marriage (e.g. two years separation by mutual agreement, five years without consent). It also prohibits individuals from entering into another marriage or civil partnership until the current contract is dissolved.

The implication is clear: the Christian Institute was more concerned with using these unfortunate people as pawns to further their own political agenda than with their actual welfare, as demonstrated by their willingness to burden them with a potentially sub-optimal package of rights. I note that at no point before or since the Bill came into effect have they argued for separate legal recognition for these individuals; they are apparently more concerned with injuring the public perception of homosexuals and their relationships than helping those in need.

Now, you haven't indicated that you agree with or endorse the CI's underhand and unchristian methods; I outline it solely because it is important to acknowledge that the bulk of publicity given to this issue was not motivated by genuine concern. Now that the Civil Partnerships Bill has passed, the logical thing to do is to draft a new (and separate) bill which explicitly addresses the needs and duties of siblings, carers or companions who are connected by their mutual dependency. This will necessarily need its own name, and be conducted in a different fashion from marriage or civil partnerships. If you feel a strong connection to this issue, perhaps you could take it upon yourself to help campaign for the new legislation. Lobby your MP; write to newspapers; blog about it; do some research; distribute leaflets explaining how the situation affects real people's lives, and what could be done to improve the situation. Maybe there is already a campaign group out there that you could join forces with? All that need limit you are your imagination and your motivation.

Sadly, you cannot rely upon the CI to support you in your efforts. If they were genuinely concerned they would have taken up this cause by now; that they have not indicates their true apathy towards the situation, and is further evidence of their deplorable duplicity.


(PS: I don't mean to sound pushy. If you're not interested in joining a campaign, that's fine and is your prerogative; I certainly don't have the time or enthusiasm to do so, although I whole-heartedly support the objective. My suggestions are only intended to inspire you if you are feeling particularly spirited about this cause.)