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Let me not…admit impediments

22 May 2013

Here is a simple solution to David Cameron’s dilemma. Instead of pushing ahead with same-sex marriage, why not abolish the legal concept of marriage altogether? Replace it, for legal purposes, with a “Relationship Contract”, which would differ from civil partnership (a phrase now too discredited to recycle) in that it would be available to couples of the same or different sexes, and would allow them to contract either to adopt the full legal rights currently available only to married couples – or to opt out of specific provisions. The standard contract would have a series of boxes allowing couples to make all the provisions for financial support, community of goods or financial independence etc. that are found in prenuptial contracts. Validity would require prior, independent legal advice.

For all non-legal purposes, including any religious ceremonies, the word “marriage” could be used, Humpty-Dumpty-wise, in whatever way those involved choose.

The swivel-eyed among you will have spotted that I have neatly embedded compulsory prenups into the new concept. It’s about time people were compelled to think hard about the implications of an institution that is not just for Christmas.

Incidentally there are no “swivel-eyed loons” in Shakespeare: “loon” (Macbeth, Othello) predates him by centuries, and is etymologically unrelated to lunatic. “Swivel eyed”, which the Tory spokesman probably lifted from Treasure Island, comes from Smollett (1757), where it was followed by “son of a whore”, probably the sense which the spokesman intended. As among the rebels was my own MP, an eminently sensible chap, I will say no more.

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From → Justice, Politics

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