Private contracts

THE motivation behind the New Westminster rite for the Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Covenants was love, tenderness and touchy-feeliness. So why, we asked ourselves, could not this fluffy niceness be extended? Why should a lonely old lady and her dearly loved pet cat not also be brought into the new inclusive world of covenants?

What has been proposed in the Queen’s Speech, and will engage our MPs in the next few months, are Same-Sex Civil Contracts, the emphasis here being financial. The most compelling argument seems to be that if two people share a house and one dies, the survivor should not be turfed out onto the street to pay the inheritance tax on the property: financial justice for non-marrieds.

There is a lot to be said for them, and, if all goes to plan, these contracts should soon be on the statute book. But why, we ask ourselves, not extend the idea? If it is to do with fairness and justice, why should not two sisters, widowed or single, not also live together and care for each other, and have a right not to be turfed out onto the street if the other dies; or two brothers; or two friends?

In terms of justice and fairness, why should civil contracts be restricted only to those who are also eligible for a New Westminster rite? Sex, that’s why. They say the Church goes on about it, but the State is now getting in on the act. Will Parliament grant the benefits of civil contracts only to those who make a public statement of their bedroom activity?

Government interest in private behaviour is a dangerous principle, and should not be encouraged. Since there is no public outcome of the private behaviour (namely, children), the ‘sex’ should be irrelevant; in which case civil contracts could be extended to any two people, even if related to each other, who want them. I suspect they won’t, for the very reason that the State is interested in sex. Though why has yet to be explained. What, for example, is the secular objection to lesbian incest? You laugh, but it is a serious question.

The CofE has tied itself in knots. The Government may soon do the same.

NT

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