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In the name of equality the government plans to require gay marriage and heterosexual marriage to be recognised as the same legal institution. But if this is equality we should call it "people's equality" to make plain that it's about as authentic as "people's democracy" was in East Germany.

Superficially, the government's reasoning appears to have some connection with the universally accepted belief that everyone should be equal under the law. But this assumption fails to acknowledge the two main forms that modern law takes. Many laws prohibit specific kinds of behaviour on pain of punishment, and it is fundamental to a free society that all such laws should apply equally to everyone.

However, not all law is of this kind. Some laws do not prohibit (or require) behaviour; rather, they create facilities for human co-operation. For example, we have company law for commerce and it is possible to register as a PLC, a non-profit company limited by guarantee, a co-op, or a community interest company. By creating legal vehicles for people to work together as they believe best, the law simply recognises the diverse ways people have chosen to trade with each other. Individuals are free to choose their preferred style of conducting business and to adopt the legal vehicle that suits them best.

Current marriage law also involves legal recognition of a chosen type of relationship. It does not exclude anyone from adopting another approach, any more than registering as a PLC excludes people who wish to trade as a co-op or provide a service as a charity. When gay activists complain that heterosexual couples have a separate legal institution it is logically similar to a PLC executive complaining that it is unfair discrimination for a co-op to have a different legal structure.

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Ben
May 4th, 2012
7:05 AM
Some weak arguments here David. "It does not matter that babies do not arrive in every case. It is a strong possibility, which is enough to have a legal arrangement to ensure that helpless infants will be brought up by loving parents." You seem to be implying that the law somehow guarantees that parents will be 'loving'. I'd suggest they could just as well be neglectful or even abusive, still within the same legal arrangement. As the legal arrangement has no significance on whether the parents will be loving or not, your argument here does not stand. "It is reasonable to have a different legal arrangement for same-sex couples because, no matter how much sex occurs between them, a baby will never result from it." Your argument appears to be that if a couple has no prospect of producing a baby, they have no need (or right) to use the legal structure of marriage. Please explain if this also applies to couples where one of the two is infertile. "None of these possibilities contradicts the inescapable fact that sexual relations between same-sex couples will never produce babies. That unavoidable difference justifies having a different legal institution." By that criteria, then post-menopausal women who have not had children should have marriages annulled. This may be an extreme example but it shows the logic underlying your argument doesn't stand up. The basis of marriage obviously isn't simply the possibility of producing children. It seems you're trying desperately to find a logical basis to back up what is probably a moral or religious objection, but on logic alone, your argument falls down. Try a different approach? (In case you're wondering, I'm not gay, and neither are some of my best friends. I just object to weak logic being used to back up religious beliefs).

Anonymous
March 28th, 2012
4:03 PM
"The majority of gays and lesbians accept that the utmost freedom for them to live as they wish is perfectly compatible with a different legal facility for male-female couples alongside civil partnerships for same-sex couples." WRONG On the last Pink News survey 99% wanted EQUAL marriage.

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