It’s Time

 

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17 Responses to “It’s Time”

  1. telescoper Says:

    My views about gay marriage are more complicated than most of my friends but, like the rest of them, this video just made me cry.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    Yes it’s a more complex issue than is realised by people of many views. The State may change its *recognition* of what constitutes marriage, but it cannot change the *definition* of marriage – although people disagree over that definition, and have done since long before the gay debate. (For instance, polygamy is accepted in the Old Testament and in Islamic lands but not in Britain.) Then there is the relatively recent nationalisation of the wedding ceremony, via Established churches and today secular State-licensed registrars. Before 1753 in England and 1563 in Catholic lands, a couple could simply declare themselves married and then *inform* the authorities. (Who is married must be a public matter because it has legal consequences, eg inheritance rights.) But today the words pronounced by the vicar or registrar mistakenly imply that he (not the couple) actually forges the union. The change was made to ensure that the couple conformed to the authorities’ criteria for marriage, namely the intentions of permanence, intimacy and exclusivity. I don’t see why a couple cannot simply inform the authorities that they have exchanged such vows and then leave it to the authorities to decide whether the relationship is to be recognised. And frankly, while the British State’s tax policies continue to discriminate against married couples, I’d be tempted to. (See: The taxation of families 2009/10 by D Draper, L Beighton and A Pearson, the latest in an annual series.)

    • I always thought the taxation laws discriminated more against *single* folk…in that getting married reduces liability for income tax. That, however, does not take into account tax credits and benefits, which are too complicated for me to understand, especially if children are involved. Then, on the other hand, perhaps families with children use more public services than others.

      I’d prefer to see an income tax system that treated everyone on the same footing whether they were married or not, but the problem then is that benefits are usually assessed on the basis of a “household” not a person.

      My main objection to the gay marriage thing – as usually argued – is that it pressures same-sex relationships to mimic heterosexual ones. That’s fine for many people, of course, but not all gay people I know want to live like that. Once you reject the idea that the only form of relationship that merits legal recognition is between one man and one woman then why does it have to be two of anyone? Why not allow groups of three or more to marry each other?

      I’m all in favour of people making private vows to each other, and celebrating them in whatever way they like. I like a good party as much as anyone, and found the video extremely moving because of course the ending of that little love story should be possible, but isn’t.

      What I don’t agree with is the state conferring legal status on some sorts of union but not others. Make everyone – straight or gay, married or single – equal under the law and let people make their own vows, without the involvement of the state.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Among other things they compare the cost of an informal shack-up to a formal marriage. Ken Clarke’s abolition of the married couples’ tax allowance, when he was Chancellor, didn’t help. See:

      http://www.care.org.uk/advocacy/family/family-fiscal-policy

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    “What I don’t agree with is the state conferring legal status on some sorts of union but not others. Make everyone – straight or gay, married or single – equal under the law and let people make their own vows, without the involvement of the state.”

    That’s an expedient solution to certain problems that arise in a multicultural and multi-orientational society, but the notion of marriage is embedded in various laws (such as inheritance) and digging the concept out of all of those laws would have many unforeseen knock-on effects.

    • Monica Grady Says:

      A wedding ceremony boils down to the single question, asked once of each partner : ‘do you X take Y to be your lawfully wedded partner?’

      It seems archaic that so much in terms of law, taxation, inheritance, etc, hangs on one question and answer.

      To me, it is recognition by your community of the partnership that is important, whether or not it is formalized by church or state.

      The ‘married woman’s tax allowance’ disappeared many years ago, thank goodness, as it was yet another way in which the law discriminated against women. Their tax affairs were seen to be related to those of their husband – but not vice versa. When I married, I did not change my name, and saw no reason why the income tax I paid should change just because I had answered ‘ I do’ to a question I was asked in front of witnesses.

      Inheritance laws can be addressed by making a proper will. Ian and I took out a joint mortgage many years before we ‘legitimised’ our partnership by marriage. One of the conditions imposed by the building soc was that we each had a will naming the other as next of kin, so in case of death, insurance would go to the survivor, enabling the mortgage to be cleared. Otherwise, the insurance would go to the assumed next of kin, i.e., my father or Ian’s father (obviously, not mother…). Legally, The joint mortgage tied us tighter together than any wedding ceremony…….
      M.

    • I thought the question was “do you take this woman to be your awful wedded wife?”.

      I also recall that Diana’s stated vow at her wedding to Prince Charles was “All thy goods with thee I share”.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Peter: I also never understood the archaic omission of the word ‘be’, in “Do you take this woman to your lawful wedded wife?” Nobody ever replied to the vicar: “How did you find out that I am trying to commit bigamy?” Nor have I ever been at a wedding where someone made an objection at the heart-stopping moment of “If anyone have just cause why this woman shall not be wedded to this man, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.”

      Monica: When you say that it “boils down to the single question, asked once of each partner : ‘do you X take Y to be your lawfully wedded partner?’ ” I am not disagreeing, but I am saying that the statement is inadequate. A couple needs to know what it means to be married; if differing couples have differing ideas then society will get confused. The mainstream definition involves permanence, intimacy and exclusivity. State-recognised marriages involve such pledges.

      In my comments above I was not arguing for discrimination against women, but I was arguing against discrimination against married couples relative to unmarried cohabiting couples. Shame on Ken Clarke!

      • telescoper Says:

        Another, I always thought it was “piece” not “peace”…

        As for the tax thing, I still don’t know exactly what you mean. There is still a married person’s tax allowance is there not?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Can’t remember Peter, but I do read the annual figures from the CARE organisation, which take this *and* the rest of the tax system into account and can be read fairly concisely at the website I linked to.

  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    “Legally, The joint mortgage tied us tighter together than any wedding ceremony”

    Yes indeed. Many of my Christian friends are against ‘pre-nup’ agreements on the grounds that statements such as ‘if the marriage fails then…’ make the marriage more likely to fail by introducing caveats into what is meant to be a total commitment. But I think they fail to take into account that in traditional societies (including those that wrote the Bible) there are dowries and bride-prices and the like – which actually have the effect of stabilising the marriage, because they may be forfeit in certain circumstances. (I’m uneasy about the concept of a ‘bride-price’ myself, but it needs to be viewed in the context of dowries going the other way and many other customs which the West does not have.)

  5. I think the only tax breaks etc should be for the benefit of children, regardless of the marital state of the parents (assuming society wants to encourage people to have children; there might be cases where there is a danger of overpopulation when incentives should go in the opposite direction). Within Europe, laws vary widely concerning the financial advantages and disadvantages of having children, living together and being married. Part of the confusion probably comes from the fact that when many of the corresponding laws were passed, any one of these applied the other two, so it didn’t matter then which one the law specified, but it does now. (Of course, within Europe, the total tax burden, as well as that which the taxpayer receives in return, also varies enormously.)

    I’m a bit confused by Anton’s remarks. On the one hand, he seems to say that people should decide for themselves and just inform the state. On the other hand, he seems to say that everyone must agree on a definition to avoid confusion. In practice, there is little difference between a marriage being performed by the state and the state accepting only approved self-declared marriages. (“Any colour you like, as long as it’s blue.”)

    While polygamy might be technically illegal in many countries, at least in some of the countries where couples are free to avoid marriage with little or no disadvantages, people are also free to have polyamorous relationships. Of course, these tend to be frowned upon like homosexual relationships were, say, 40 years ago. Today, many leading politicians are openly homosexual, but usually or always in long-term monogamous relationships. I don’t know of any politicians who are openly ployamorous, but suggest that society should treat these with no less respect than long-term monogamous homosexual relationships. (Of course, there are people who aren’t politicians in such relationships. Politics is a sort of final test: nothing is truly accepted in society until society accepts it of politicians.)

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Phillip: I would say that corruption is a counter-example to your suggestion that “nothing is truly accepted in society until society accepts it of politicians”…

      Let me clarify. Because I believe that a couple can pronounce themselves married I object to ceremonies in which a State-licensed person *pronounces* them married. So I am happy for a couple simply to inform the State that they have got married. As marriage has consequences in law (such as tax law), the State must then decide whether or not to recognise that couple’s marriage. In a democracy, there is a debate about the criteria for State recogition. I would require the couple to sign a form stating that they had exchanged pledges of permanence, intimacy and exclusivity. That all happens in the present nationalised ceremony, of course.

      “I think the only tax breaks etc should be for the benefit of children, regardless of the marital state of the parents”

      Depends what you mean by Benefit. I think that the greatest benefit for a child is a stable home. Shack-ups are statistically far less stable than marriages. So should the State not favour marriage?

      • I would say that corruption is a counter-example to your suggestion that “nothing is truly accepted in society until society accepts it of politicians”…

        So you’re saying that corruption is truly accepted in society even though it is not accepted of politicians? Depends on the definition of “truly accepted”, I suppose. Actually, I think my definition is almost a tautology.

        “I think the only tax breaks etc should be for the benefit of children, regardless of the marital state of the parents”

        Depends what you mean by Benefit. I think that the greatest benefit for a child is a stable home.

        I meant that financial benefits should be based on the presence of children, not that these are the most important much less the only benefits.

        Shack-ups are statistically far less stable than marriages. So should the State not favour marriage?

        I don’t know what the statistics are, but let’s assume that marriages are more stable. (By the way, “shack-up” sounds rather pejorative.) Of course, the detailed statistics will vary from country to country, we need to consider marriages which now exist only on paper (and, indeed, those which never existed in any form but on paper), but we need to be careful not to confuse cause and effect. Practically no-one interested in a short-term relationship would consider marriage. So, rather than marriage being the reason for stability, stability in many cases is one of the reasons for marriage. Similarly, many people get married when they have children, since it makes legal matters easier. (The extent to which this happens depends on the laws, of course.) I don’t see how any financial incentive can lead to a stable relationship, though it might lead people to claim one just to claim the benefit.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Phillip: I meant that people shrug their shoulders when politicians are revealed as corrupt but deplore it elsewhere.

        Interestingly, more marriages break up when the couple lived together first. Some wit paraphrased this as: Marry at leisure, repent in haste.

        Financial incentive cannot of itself create happiness in a relationship, but it can stabilise a household, which is arguably better for the children, who are often the forgotten victims of divorce.

      • Phillip: I meant that people shrug their shoulders when politicians are revealed as corrupt but deplore it elsewhere.

        I honestly thought you meant the opposite. 🙂 However, even if acceptance by society implies acceptance from politicians, the reverse is not necessarily true. 😐

        Interestingly, more marriages break up when the couple lived together first. Some wit paraphrased this as: Marry at leisure, repent in haste.

        It is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. 🙂 I suspect that couples who don’t live together first are strongly opposed to divorce on moral grounds, so they probably stay together on paper only when other couples would divorce, are much more sure before they start, or both.

        Financial incentive cannot of itself create happiness in a relationship, but it can stabilise a household, which is arguably better for the children, who are often the forgotten victims of divorce.

        Indeed, which is why (assuming society wants to support children) benefits should be keyed to the presence of children, rather than providing tax breaks for married couples who are childless (whether voluntarily or not).

  6. The video has now become a fully-fledged internet hit, racking up 1.6 million views in just 4 days.

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/11/28/video-australian-marriage-equality-short-becomes-overnight-hit/

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