Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Day One

First day of my holiday. 

I'm pleased that I've managed to get up out of my bed at 8:30, although I may have managed to get coffee and orange juice and peanut butter on toast - just not yet gone as far as having a shower. Depending on how your imagination works, that may present quite a disturbing picture for you. 

Last night, the House of Commons debated for the 2nd time the proposal to legalise marriage for same sex partners. With the Bill as it stands, church bodies will not be forced to provide marriages for same sex couples, if their religious conscience forbids it. 

I was watching the Parliament channel, as they discussed and voted upon the different suggested clauses to the bill. These are amendment suggestions made by others, that may either add clarity to or increase the effectiveness of the bill when it passes into law. They may also provide the tactical opportunity to delay or even derail the bill itself. 

An example of those being, one where registrars (the people that work at the registry offices where such marriages would take place) should be able to not personally be involved in them. There were those that felt this meant they would be officiating over ceremonies which they did not agree with for either religious or other personal grounds. 

Another pointing out that by creating this law, with the motive of creating equality, the government are actually generating a fresh inequality, in that if it became law, same sex couples would be able to either get married or to create a civil partnership. Opposite sex couples would only have the choice to be married or unmarried. How can it be right to remove one unfairness, only to replace it with another. 

It is, I think, an interesting point. There can't be any gradations of equality. Things are either equal or they are not. The government's representative countered this suggestion by saying that the idea of allowing opposite sex couples to also have a civil partnership has not been explored. There had been no work done to see if there was indeed a need for such a law, or what the implications would be for widow or widowers that would then be able to receive a pension when surviving their partner. Those that currently as plain old cohabiters are entitled to nothing unless someone has the sense to make a will. 

Is it really such an unexpected request ? Did those involved in writing the bill really not consider this one ? It seems terribly short sighted of them - although I think incompetent would be a different way of describing it.  

Those suggesting this change to the piece of legislation are also being accused of doing so with ulterior motives. Their history of all things equality isn't exactly shining, and have previously been involved with trying to stop the law that created civil partnerships in the first place ten years ago, and also in not supporting previous laws for example the harmonising of the ages of consent for gay and straight people. 

You would think that the three options being to either allow gay and straight couples to both marry and create civil partnerships, remove civil partnerships, and provide equal marriages or.. then there's the way they are suggesting. Something about politics where compromise creates inefficient and ineffective or just downright confusing law. 

Democracy may not be the best solution to the problem of how to govern a country, but it certainly is the best of all the other alternatives. 

The bill that gets passed through to the House of Lords for further consideration (and I suspect will come against more fundamental opposition) will in some way be a halfway house, in that perhaps civil partnerships were in their own way the law that could get passed rather than the law that was really needed or called for.  Politics being the art of the possible, where sometimes everyone gets a little of what they don't want in order to achieve something the do want. 

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