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Iain Dale: Trust civil servants to bugger up same-sex marriage by not including consummation

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  1. Joanne Gregory 27 Jan 2013, 7:48pm

    I am amazed how many people even in the health sector do not classify Gay/Lesbian sex as sex.

    A Nurse at my local GP’s said to me Oh you are not sexually active are you as you are a Lesbian. Excuse me I replied my wife and I have sex several times a night. The look of shock on her face was a picture.

    1. James Swinburne 27 Jan 2013, 7:51pm

      That’s bad! But also, these exist: “

    2. Jock S. Trap 28 Jan 2013, 10:37am

      Nope those kinds of ignorant assumptions don’t help!

    3. Robert in S. Kensington 28 Jan 2013, 1:08pm

      Obviously, the nurse hasn’t heard of heteros having oral or even anal sex!

  2. Errr don’t give the opposition tips please!

    As you said, unreasonable behaviour covers it. Consummation of marriage is a bit of daft concept nowadays anyway.

  3. Regardless of same sex marriage, adultery should have been changed a LONG time ago to include extra marital relations with ANY human being, not just someone of the opposite sex. Why they’re not taking the opportunity to change it now is beyond me. I’m assuming it’s not to further upset the ‘redefining marriage’ brigade. But might as well be hung for a dragon, as for an egg.

    The consummation one is trickier imo. I mean should we be assuming/dictating what kind of sex a couple is having? Also is sex mandatory for a marriage? Not saying either way, but I’m thinking an elderly couple for example who just want companionship?

    1. My Aunt got married a few years ago and she was 77, her husband was 79. They are married and I, and the rest of society, have no knowledge or interest in whether the marriage was consummated or not. They are still married and happily so.

      The consummation part is a religious artefact based on control of sex (to determine if the woman, not the man lol, was a virgin)

  4. Its interesting to compare the Holyrood and Westminster marriage bills with regard to consummation. The law is different, but Scotland has a novel way of dealing with the matter as the issue about consummation is really, in legal terms, annulment. If it is biologically impossible to meet the requirements of heterosexually defined consummation, you’ve got a problem. In Scotland to prove non-consummation you must prove ‘legal impotency’ to get a marriage to be annulled. This means going to court and proving in court that one or other or both parties to the marriage are impotent in relation to their spouse.

    It doesn’t happen much.

    The Scottish Government has simply said that at the moment this only happens in relation to heterosexual spouses and this will continue to be the case, so basically instead of saying the marriage must be consummated, Scotland is saying that same-sex spouses would not be able to get a declaration of impotency and therefore couldn’t get an annulment. I think.

    1. So what you’re saying is that mixed sex couples in Scotland can get their marriage annulled but same sex couples won’t be able to? Doesn’t sound very equal to me. It may not appear to be important but it still means that same sex marriage won’t be equal to mixed sex marriage.

      1. Equality Network 28 Jan 2013, 9:40am

        Scots law does not have a concept of consummation being required for a marriage to be sound. The “permanent and incurable impotency” rule in Scotland is different. Or to put it another way, sex is not a requirement for marriage in Scotland.

        Iain Dale’s argument is flawed. Perhaps he’d like to define exactly what he means by “gay sex”. If a male couple in England and Wales don’t do anal sex, does he think their marriage should be voidable (ie can be annulled) due to non-consummation? Or would oral sex be enough? But oral sex is not enough to consummate a mixed-sex marriage in England and Wales. What about women couples – what kind of sex would be enough to make their marriage secure?

        As for adultery, at present it only means vaginal intercourse with a person of the opposite set. All other kinds of sexual infidelity can be the basis for a divorce under the unreasonable behaviour ground. It is proposed that the same will apply to same-sex marriages

        1. Thanks for the explanation. I do understand why the Scottish government ( and UK gov too) would have some difficulty with this issue, and I also realise that in reality it won’t stop gay couples from getting divorced if one has an affair, for example. I just can’t help feel that’s it’s still a discrepancy which means gay people won’t have true equality, no matter how small or insignificant it will be in reality.

          1. I don’t understand why they just didn’t put it in and let the courts deal with it – they will be able to tell you what they think consummation and adultery is in a same-sex marriage breakdown.

      2. I’m actually disappointed the Scottish Government didn’t follow the recommendation to scrap annulments altogether. Consummation is defined – in case law – as being penile penetration of the vagina and more than that requires ‘emission’ on the part of the man. Without ‘emission’ there is no consummation. Its a very medieval, patriarchal law to do with female virginity and proving paternity of children in a legal system that relied on male primogeniture for inheritance with little, if any regard, to the status of women. Other laws, like the law that by marrying her husband a woman was consenting to all future sexual encounters for the entire duration of the marriage, have since been disregarded – marital rape was eventually criminalised in Scotland in 1982.

        I agree that it is discrimination that same-sex couples won’t be able to get an annulment but knowing the history of the status of consummation of marriage I’d rather the laws around impotency and annulment were scrapped altogether.

        1. I agree with you, Lyra. It seems this law is simply outdated now that marriage won’t only ever be between a man and a woman and it would have been better for the Scot gov to simply scrap it.

          To be honest, surely it can’t even apply if one person in a straight couple has a same sex affair? It just seems a rather old fashioned and daft law.

          Thanks for the info you’ve provided on this, btw!

          1. Curiously, legal impotency is to be differentiated from medical impotency. Its not that someone is incapable of having sex so they could sleep with as many people as they wanted, its that they are incapable of having sex specifically with their spouse and this ‘impotency’ has to be ‘permanent and incurable’ as the Equality Network pointed out. That is to say, they find them completely repulsive and would never have sex with them now or ever even if they were the last person alive on the planet. You have to wonder why they married them then – unless they’d never met. If all of this sounds a bit Henry-the-eighth then that’s because it is. Annulments were very important once because marriages were often arranged and it was almost impossible to get a divorce, as proved by The Reformation. I like to think we’ve moved on a bit since then. You’re right – its old fashioned and daft. IMO its no loss to same-sex couples that this legal route won’t be available north of the border.

        2. Tim Hopkins 28 Jan 2013, 4:19pm

          There are important differences between the English and Scots law here. For example, refusal ever to have sex renders an English marriage voidable through non-consummation, but does not make a Scottish marriage voidable (although it may found a divorce on grounds of unreasonable behaviour). Scots marriages are only voidable if either spouse is permanently incapable of penetration. Emission and fertiility are not required. You’re right, the rule should be abolished!

          1. Tim Hopkins 28 Jan 2013, 4:24pm

            And incidentally, in England and Wales a marriage can also be annulled if one spouse had an STI at the time of the marriage (and didn’t tell the other spouse), or if the wife was at the time of the marriage pregnant with the child of another man, and didn’t tell her husband! Neither rule applies in Scotland.

          2. Thanks for clarifying this.

  5. I disagree with IaIn Dale. I don’t think they have got it wrong. I think consummation and adultery are old fashioned concepts that should be taken out of the equation for all marriages. Let’s get this through and then let the heterosexual marriages catch up and modernise to bring themselves in line. Unreasonable behaviour as a catch all for reasons for divorce is perfectly good enough. And consummation should not be necessary. What about those people (gay or straight) who cannot, or do not want to, have sex.

    1. I agree. Unreasonable behaviour seems to be the most commonly used reason anyway. Apparently citing adultery is a nuisance (needs proof) and unreasonable behaviour can cover vague (ie no person named) notions of infidelity anyway if anyone wants.

      What people do in their private lives is their concern and if both spouses are happy then the issue of consummation wouldn’t come up anyway. Even if it did, then that could be cited under unreasonable behaviour anyway.

      As an aside, I also think the definition of adultery for straight people is out of date and too specific in that only a certain act counts, which is nonsensical for anyone bothered by their partner’s unfaithfulness and intimacy with another person. The fact that one particular act hadn’t been done would hardly be of concern to anyone who felt betrayed, I’d imagine.

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 28 Jan 2013, 1:15pm

      Yes, and what about those Anglican CPd clergy who are supposed to be celibate? By definition, their CP would be invalid and subject to dissolution since no sexual activity has taken place.

      In the case of two married women, without sounding coarse, what if one used an artificial penis and penetrated her partner. I take it this would be construed as consummation?

  6. The idea that “adultery” or “non-consummation” should be grounds for divorce/ annulment is a pretty mediaeval idea anyway.

    As Iain mentions, this could be dealt with under the umbrella of “unreasonable behaviour”.

    And in any case, people will still be able to divorce after a period of separation, whatever horrors have happened in their relationship. Maybe if people aren’t willing to commit to trying to make their relationships work after a difficult patch, they shouldn’t be getting married in the first place.

    Good people: let’s not start obsessing about trivial things as though they were catastrophic impediments, whether it be hetero CPs, or consummation, or adultery. Let’s be very positive and cheer this great legislative milestone through with joy, trumpets, flags and Champagne!

    1. The whole purpose of marriage is to produce “legitimate” children. Or it used to be. It was never supposed to be just an expression of commitment between lovers.

      1. It didn’t used to be – you made that up. It has only recently about producing children right about the same time as LGBT people wanted to get married.

        1. The key word is legitimate hon.

          It’s a good job William and Kate got married first – or their kid would have to take the argument to Strasbourg. Mind you, that would be interesting.

      2. Chipsy

        We, the people, can decide what the purpose of marriage is. We aren’t living in a theocracy any more. And for many years, people have been getting married either without the intention, or the ability, to have children, and I don’t recall anyone objecting to that. Also, over the years, quite a number of people have been getting married as a means of access to wealth, in return for providing their partner with access to sex. (Ever seen those multi-millionaire/ young model couples?) Again, I haven’t heard much objection from traditionalists to the status of those marriages.

        So, in other words, you need to keep looking for better excuses. Time is running out.

        1. So you end up eradicating all of the things that make a marriage different from a CP – gender differences, consummation, adultery…. because equality has to be sameness….

          In other words we get CPs for all – but we call it marriage? LOL All this fuss over a stupid word – especially when gay people use words like marriage, husband, wife and wedding already. That’s 27 million well spent!

          1. bobbleobble 28 Jan 2013, 10:12am

            Er no, in other words we get marriage for all.

            Words are important, if it wasn’t then so many people wouldn’t be against us using it now would they?

            Plus gay people can call CPs marriage etc but it doesn’t make it so. I can call myself a duck but that doesn’t mean I have a bill and live on a pond.

      3. It was possibly the main purpose, but it wasn’t always the whole purpose: transferring property and establishing kinship ties were important too (though admittedly usually in the hope that children would ensue).

        1. OK main purpose. But what a gay people gaining from taking those things out of the definition of marriage? All that’s left is the word itself.

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 28 Jan 2013, 1:56pm

      Wholeheartedly agree, Gazza. Get it done and who really cares about the semantics of the word adultery and non-consummation nonsense? All we should care about is getting a marriage certificate. Who really cares how a marriage might end and the reasons for it?

  7. I see the “Oh stop whining, isn’t this what we wanted” brigade (who previously supported civil partnerships wholeheartedly without mentioning equal marriage) are back with a vengeance. I’ve missed you guys! Your sudden conversion to equal marriage advocates is lovely to see though.

    For once, and it saddens me to say this, I agree with Iain Dale. On top of his concerns is the fact pension rights still won’t be equal. This isn’t “equal marriage” it is “gay marriage”. And that isn’t what I’ve been fighting for for 10 years.

    *sigh*

    Another ten years of moaning ahead I foresee!

  8. I was always under the impressio that consummation was required because in the ‘traditional’ view of marriage it is a union in which children should be produced. Many marriages (of gay people, straight people (particularly where the woman is no longer of child bearing age)) would not have children as a founding desire. Perhaps the real thing to do is get rid of the requirement of consummation for ALL marriages, not define consummation for gays and lesbians…

    1. In other words redefine marriages as civil partnerships but keep the name!

      1. No – just understand marriages for what they are and not what you have decided they are in order to object to LGBT people being married

        1. But you are not proposing to keep marriages “for what they are”. You have only now discovered there are all these strange “archaic” legal concepts relating to gender differences – and the only way to make marriage equal is to remove them all for gays AND straights. What’s left is a CP. The only thing you propose to keep is the name!

          1. No, the removal of these archaic things should have been done previously, but no-one bothered or it hadn’t been a problem. Now might provide an ideal opportunity to deal with them. People have objected to old-fashioned ideas like those mentioned before – both straight and LGBT people.

          2. So you agree that marriages need to be changed into something else for EVERYONE?

    2. That and good old ‘conjugal rights’, Chris.

    3. Perhaps the Australian model of (unfortunately still only heterosexual) marriage might better suit the current marriage bill. It takes no cognisance of consummation – it cannot be grounds for annulment. Neither is adultery recognised as grounds for divorce – indeed, only irretrievable breakdown is accepted, and no blame is apportioned to either party.

      Why weigh down the bill with mediaeval trappings – let us step into the new millennium.

      1. Actually in the UK your marriage needs to have been “irretrievably broken down” the 5 so called “grounds” are actually just indicative factors that this has happened and one of which MUST be present.

  9. I suspect that non-consummation is a red herring. Does anyone know how many marriages are actually annulled because of it?

    Adultery is more serious. Here I think that SSM is merely highlighting anomalies in the current law. It does seem rediculous that say oral sex with someone other than your husband or wife does not qualify.

    What’s the betting though that if we suggest including it then the “pro traditional marriage” brigade will suddenly be filled with rage that they can no longer get an extra marital blowjob without it being automatic grounds for divorce.

    It’s a funny old world.

    1. Equality Network 28 Jan 2013, 9:49am

      In Scotland, in the most recent year for which statistics are available (2009-10), there were 10,173 divorces, of which only 69 were on grounds of adultery. 472 were on grounds of unreasonable behaviour, and almost all the rest were on grounds of living apart for one year (both spouses agreed to divorce) or two years (only one spouse wanted to divorce). There were zero annulments of marriage on grounds of impotency (the comsummation rule does not apply in Scotland).

  10. Consummation is not compulsory, the “marriage police’ do not stand over us on our wedding nights. I presume straight sex with a condom does not constitute consummation. If a husband is HIV positive is he required to make love to his new wife without a condom in order for the marriage to be recognised? No.

    It’s simply provides an easy option for annulment for Catholics, in order that they can be re-married in their church.

    I see nothing wrong with the governments drafting. There is no need to define or standardise gay or lesbian sex.

    1. I think it’s penetration, benji. That counts for consummation and adultery too. Condom or not, it’s the physical act.

      1. Craig Nelson 27 Jan 2013, 11:19pm

        I seem to remember reading the words “emission of seed” somewhere regarding consummation. Penetration on its own is not sufficient – also erection is also required.

        1. Joanna Rowland-Stuart 27 Jan 2013, 11:33pm

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/dec/10/legal-definition-consummation-gay-marriage

          The standard definition of consummation has developed through case law; the accepted precedent goes back to a 1967 hearing.

          In that case, known to lawyers as W (otherwise K) v W, it was declared that consummation must include erection and penetration by the man of the woman with “emission of seed” – a definition that would not work for same-sex marriages.

          1. Joanna Rowland-Stuart 27 Jan 2013, 11:39pm

            P.S. If the emission is within a condom, it presumably still counts – the actus rea in respect of fertilisation cannot be completed, but the mens rea is very much still there.

            But that case is gender specific. We’d need an explicit definition of consummation within any amendments to the Marriage Act 1949 or the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, or doing away with any reference to consummation whatsoever. Ditto re adultery. Unreasonable behaviour covers a LOT of this already.

        2. It was decided a while ago that sex with a condom is still consummation because they are still emitting seed even if it isn’t directly into the vagina.

  11. Perhaps this is because they know how many gay couple have open relationships?

    1. And how many of us is that exactly? Compared to the scientifically researched numbers you have from straight couples?

    2. Some gay couples have open relationships, as do heterosexuals, what has that got to do with two people committing to each other for life,

  12. Consummation of straight sex was only established by case law in the first place so what exactly is the problem in not letting case law establish conummation for gay sex when the case arises.

    The govt is right, let case law work it out. Afterall that is what happenned with straight sex, it was established by the law and not govt.

    Adultery already doesn’t recognise affairs in married couples with people of the same sex. There’s an a long standing issue there anyway.

    The key to this is that adultery and consummation are centuries old and out of date anyway. Why were they introduced in the first place and are they really relevant to today and in particular to SSM?

    1. Actually, the bill specifically says that adultery can only be between people of the opposite sex, and that non-consummation is not grounds for annulment of a same-sex marriage.

      As far as I know, the legal concepts of adultery and consummation predate the common use of contraception. So “non-consummation” would be equivalent to “no possibility of having children” (so the couple could separate without risking ending up with an unmarried mother), and “adultery” would be equivalent to “risking having illegitimate children”. They are completely irrelevant nowadays.

  13. Bill Cameron 27 Jan 2013, 9:15pm

    I’ve been rather cynical about Iain Dale and his motives ever since some years ago he expressed support for then Australian PM John Howard when he was re-elected, despite Howard’s deeply-homophobic policies (not that the current Labour PM there is any better, of course). He makes a valid point here, though.

  14. He has an interesting point on the “how do we define sex” thing though.
    Because I have (straight) friends who don’t count oral sex, as sex. But for me that’s exactly what it is. If the Government cannot decide what homosexual sex actually is then it’s not surprising that, as a lesbian, I’m often brushed aside when asking questions in the gyno’s office.

    I mean, the dictionary definition of sexual intercourse is an erect penis into a (and in my dictionary it stipulates) woman’s vagina, ending in ejaculation. (No mention of orgasms, do straight people not have those?)

  15. Dan Filson 27 Jan 2013, 9:47pm

    This is a bit of a red herring as marriage law has been moving away from adultery, non-consummation etc towards unreasonable behaviour and irretrievable breakdown of marriage. I believe, without checking, that non-consummation was not a ground for divorce under civil partnerships either.

  16. Craig Nelson 27 Jan 2013, 11:29pm

    There’s actually been a lot of debate about this and consummation and adultery are big talking points of those opposing same sex marriage.

    It is simply impossible in law to define consummation for male/female;female/female; male/male without giving a catalogue of different sex acts that do or don’t count towards consummation.

    This would be rather tiresome as well as mildly pronographic.

    Another option is to allow consummation (and adultery) to go the way of the dodo. That would just flame up in the attack of those opposing gay marriage that we were seeking to “change marriage for everyone”. So I fully understand the reason for the govt doing this.

    The Bill has now been published and doubtless there will be some amendments but basically if you want same sex marriage to be lawful in 2013 rather than 2023 then this is it and we need to get behind the Bill, whatever its wrinkles, and see it gets onto the statute book in a few months.

  17. I think consummation as a legal term has had it’s day. What about when two very elderly people in a retirement home fall in love and want to marry? They may not want to enter into a full sexual relationship. They may be fulfilled with just cuddles and companionship. Marriage for them is just as valid.

    1. I take it you’ve not heard about the extraordinarily high STI rates at retirement homes, then? I’m not actually joking. My grandmother had no end of fun when she was in a nursing home, although it turned out that the gentleman in question lied about his age. He said he was 88 but turned out to be 90.

      But yes, not everyone in a relationship has sex. Some people are asexual. Some are unable to have sex for medical reasons.

  18. Womandrogyne 28 Jan 2013, 12:35am

    One reason why this is “equal marriage” and not “gay marriage” is the obvious one that not all same-sex marriages are “gay” – where one or both spouses are bisexual, for example, it’s clearly not a “gay marriage”. It’s still got a way to go before “equal” is true, but it’s a start.

  19. Both consummation and adultery legally require penetration of a vagina by a penis. There are almost certainly straight cis couples who can’t or won’t do this. The only consequence of non-consummation is that you can get an annulment, which is basically the same as divorce, and nobody ever does this anyway. The only consequence of adultery is that it is a justification for divorce, but then so is “unreasonable behaviour”, which covers everything else that we normally consider to be adultery. These rules are archaic and pointless, but they don’t produce meaningful inequality, unlike the continuing discrimination with respect to spousal benefits, and the failure to allow trans people who were forced to get divorced to get their marriages back.

    If the bill *did* get rid of consummation and adultery (trying to extend them to couples without a penis and vagina would be stupid and fruitless), the Catholics and the right-wing newspapers would go ballistic.

    1. I`m sorry but on the point of adultery I agree with Ian Dale on this one

      Lawyers have already said that this will be open to legal challenges from either same sex couples or heterosexual couples because it`s clearly treating couples differently based on their sexuality.

      The simple thing to do would be abolish adultery for all civil marriages/divorces to bring marriage and divorce laws up to date with modern relationships.

      The bill is a step in the right direction however which i support but it sadly flawed and not 100% equal marriage.

      1. Tim Hopkins 28 Jan 2013, 10:02am

        I’d be surprised if the proposed treatment of adultery could successfully be challenged in court. I think that courts tend to focus on the practical results of the law, and because sexual infidelity that is not heterosexual intercourse can be the basis for divorce already under the unreasonable behaviour rule, in practice the adultery rule is not needed at all. It would probably be sensible to abolish the adultery ground for divorce, and the Scottish Govt did propose that 10 years ago but dropped the proposal because churches were opposed. But arguably it would not be a good idea to use this particular bill to “redefine marriage” for existing marriages, which abolishing adultery would do.

  20. I think the government needs to tell us how many marriages are annulled through non-consummation today so that it can justify it’s keeping reference to consummation in the marriage laws with statistics to back it up.

    1. Tim Hopkins 28 Jan 2013, 10:11am

      Although there is no consummation rule in Scotland, there is a rule that a marriage can be annulled due to the permanent and incurable impotency of either spouse. In the most recent year, there were no annulments. For comparison, there were 10,172 divorces, of whoch 69 were on grounds of adultery.

  21. Just get rid of the consummation altogether and define adultery or whatever under a different context. Consummation is an outdated concept anyway. What about all the married couples who are celibate or asexual and happy without sex? Are they not really married? In the end, the concept basically amounts to practically forcing sex on those who don’t want it in order for them to be considered “truly” married in the eyes of some stupid piece of legal jargon.

  22. I’m sorry but Dale is right-this is not equal marriage at all. Equal means treated in the same way. This is gay marriage not equal marriage. So what if consummation is outdated, it’s still THERE for heterosexuals to have their marriage annulled. What if you find out your spouse has weird sexual practices -even illegal- on the wedding night. Annullment is VERY useful for heterosexuals to ‘get out’ of a mistaken marriage without the hassle of divorce.

    Gay people are being denied this right.

    So if you’re a gay man and your husband has sex with another man, it’s not adultery?! How so? Ridiculous

    That and the pension rights issue. People have been conned here: this is gay marriage not marriage and it’s no different from civil partnerships, really.

    1. Tim Hopkins 28 Jan 2013, 10:19am

      How would you want the equal marriage legislation to define consummation for two men or two women in a marriage, Sam? Because, for example, anal sex between a man and a woman would not be consummation, nor would oral sex. As far as I can see, the only sensible way would be to extend it to cover all sexual activity. But the churches would oppose that. As others have said, the consummation rule is outdated (it doesn’t exist in Scotland, or in many other countries of the world). Arguably this bill is not the right place to redefine parts of marriage law that apply to mixed-sex couples, for example redefining consummation or adultery – that would play into the hands of opponents who claim we are “redefining marriage”.

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 28 Jan 2013, 1:22pm

      What do you care? How man gay married couples in all of the countries where we can marry are worried about the definition of adultery, consummation or bloody divorce? It seems this is pecular to the UK equal marriage debate as a means to halt it. Iain should stop splitting hairs. Nobody really cares about what construes adultery. If you’re given a marriage certificate, then you’re bloody well married, end of. I couldn’t care less what two heteros do in or outside of their marriage and the reasons for ending it. Please, stop trying to pretend CPs are not much different from marriage. Leave the UK and you’ll find out just how unequal they are. There is no universal recognition or standard for them, let alone demand. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be discussing equal marriage and there would be no marriage for same-sex couples anywhere.

      1. You are missing the point that Ian Dale made here, This isn`t about holding up equal marriage plans at all there are people who are gay or bisexual who are GENUNINLY concerned about this issue especially when it comes to the divorce rules regarding adultery.

        I am one of them and I share these concerns, I am all for equal marriage but that`s the issue this bill is flawed they`ve had plenty of time to sort this out and yet they`ve left it up in the air.

        I swear the reason for them doing this is to pander to the religious right yet again they could have just reformed or abolished the adultery laws within Civil marriage but instead they chose to bring forth a bill that is Gay Marriage that falls short of being true equal marriage.

        Now I understand there are people such as yourself who are just happy to be allowed to marry having waited so long for this regardless of it`s minor flaws. but why should equality always have to fall short of being truely equal every single time ?

  23. Could someone explain to me the difference in pension rights between a Civil Partnership couple and a heterosexual married couple…many thanks.

    1. Equality Network 28 Jan 2013, 10:26am

      For a marriage, if the husband dies, his wife gets a survivor’s pension from his occupational pension scheme, and the amount is based on how much contributions he paid into the scheme since 1978. If the wife dies first, her husband gets a survivor’s pension from her pension scheme, based on her contributions since 1988. So there’s sex discrimination in mixed-sex marriage pensions!

      For civil partnership, the operative date is 1988 for public sector and contracted out pensions, and a statutory minimum of 2005 for private sector pensions (although perhaps two thirds of private sector pensions voluntarily use 1988). So bereaved civil partners get the same as bereaved husbands in public sector pensions, but less than bereaved wives do, and civil partners get a lot less than either husbands or wives in private sector pensions, if the scheme only pays the statutory minimum based on 2005.

      The UK Government’s proposal is to treat same-sex marriage the same as civil partnership, for pensions.

      1. Many thanks for the explanation….

      2. Last time i checked they said that they were not going to do that with the occupational pensions (because its an unforeseen cost apparently!) … in the consultation reply. They may have changed their minds on the issue again though.

  24. Jock S. Trap 28 Jan 2013, 10:36am

    Typical… but lets get this through then iron out the problems within it!

    Though I do find it funny that people don’t/won’t think what gay sex is considering it seems to be all the religious extremist buggers can think about!

  25. casparthegood 28 Jan 2013, 10:56am

    Criminal law never has a problem defining what constitutes a “sexual act” So what is the problem with this? Sounds like a classic cop-out to me. If under different circumstances (coercion, age related, etc) you could be charged then it’s got to be a sexual act.Can’t have this both ways can they?
    No Puns intended in the above either

    1. I had similar thoughts. Male rape – sodomy – is considered a crime because of the forced penetration. So why is consensual sodomy not considered as penetration and therefore consummation?

      1. Tim Hopkins 28 Jan 2013, 12:42pm

        Rape also include oral penetration, which consummation for mixed-sex couples does not. I think there is no simple solution to redefining consummation and adultery, and you would certainly end up changing the definition for mixed-sex couples too, which the churches would probably oppose, and which plays into the hands of opponents who say we are “redefining marriage for everyone”.

        As an example of the practical difficulties, if you base the definition of consummation on a consensual version of the definition of rape, what would consitute consummation for a marriage between two women?Alternatively, if you base it on the definition of sexual activity which, when non-consensual constitutes a sexual assault, then touching parts of the body through clothing would be consummation.

        1. They changed consummation to include sex with the use of a condom … so this really is not an issue any penetrative sex should be classed as a consummation (and yes lesbians can have penetrative sex, ive been told about it in great detail)

  26. All pretty irrelevant really. When you get married you will call it marriage and get a marriage certificate.

    Adultery is an out-dated term, all covered, whether you are straight or gay, under “unreasonable behavior”, and consummation is irrelevant, sex is sex, period. There may be couples unable to have penetrative sex, someone who is paralysed from the waist or chest down – anyone seriously saying such a person should not be allowed to get married?

    For adultery in a straight marriage, because it has to be between opposite sexes, presumable a bisexual man married to a women who then has sex with another man, isn’t committing adultery. Which shows how stupid the law already is, even before any updates/changes.

    We should just get on with this and not worry about the stupid and ridiculous things other people think – at the end of the day you will have a marriage license the same as your parents and friends and co-workers.

    1. I think both consummation and adultery should be completely removed. If someone has sex outside the marriage without agreement then it is “unreasonable behavior” regardless of who you have it with.

      And what business has the government in what sexual activity happens within a relationship – absolutely none. It should get out of the bedroom completely – it’s an affront to think the government is actually interesting in this completely private and personal area of someone’s life. Consummation is an old religious notion, it comes from tribal rules thousands of years ago. On the morning after the marriage the husband of the bridge is supposed to take the bloodied sheets of the bed where the couples had FIRST sex. It proved the women was a virgin because when she had FIRST sex her hymen would be torn and some blood would spill on to the bedsheets. This was to prove she was a virgin.

  27. Robert in S. Kensington 28 Jan 2013, 1:07pm

    Why not make any form of sexual activity between two consenting adults regardless of orientation, adultery? What is this obsession with vaginal sex about?

    I can’t imagine those on the fence are going to dither over the definition of adultery between people of the same gender and vote against it. What about a married hetero male who suffers from erectile dysfunction and has an affair even though vaginal sex wasn’t involved but lets say, oral? Have the government looked at that too? This is more to do with semantics. Any sexual activity outside of marriage should be construed as adulterous. This is all rooted in religious interpretation of marriage isn’t it. It has no place in a civil marriage or on the effects of a divorce.

    1. Tim Hopkins 28 Jan 2013, 4:39pm

      Because “sexual activity” in law can include things like a person touching their secretary on the bum through clothing: quite rightly too; that is a form of sexual assault. But would people want it to constitute grounds for divorce? There’s at least an argument that would brew there.

      I agree with your general intention, but I think the answer is to deal with it all as unreasonable behaviour. To found a divorce, the behaviour must be such that a reasonbable person could not be expected to cohabit with the defender as their spouse. The court decides in all the circumstances whether the behaviour complained of is unreasonable.

    2. Our marriage laws date from a time (like most of history) when it important for men to know who the real father was. Adultery laws were an insurance policy against cuckoldry. Sex > children > legitimate children were closely linked concepts. So “sex” is vaginal sex. Hence our rape laws were only changed a few years ago to include oral and anal penetration.

      The whole institution of marriage regulates what is unique to male-female couples: procreative sex. The government is now trying to create gender neutral marriages by stripping out everything that made it a marriage in the first place. All you are left with is a civil partnership that everyone is calling a marriage.

      BTW I support CPs as the only civil option for all. It’s much fairer and more HONEST that way (the government is now going to offer everyone CPs but dishonestly) – leaving religions to advocate what is so significant about the union of one man and woman – the current definition of marriage!

      1. Tim Hopkins 28 Jan 2013, 9:05pm

        One major problem with your proposal of CPs for all as the only civil option is that CPs are not recognised internationally – only marriage is.

        In some countries only civil marriage is available as a legal ceremony – if you want complete separation of civil and religious aspects, surely that’s the way to go? As in France for example – everyone has a civil wedding, and the religious wedding is a separate and non-legally effective (but obviously religiously hugely significant) ceremony.

        Not what’s proposed here of course, and I think what’s proposed here is better: a choice of civil or religious (and, in Scotland, belief-system such as humanist) marriage ceremonies, all legally recognised as starting a marriage. Maximum choices is good!

        1. I thought the only nations that recognised same-sex marriages were ones where same-sex marriage or an equivalent (CPs) were legal.

          1. Tim Hopkins 29 Jan 2013, 7:33am

            That’s mostly correct – although Israel recgnises same-sex marriage but does not allow it to be done in Israel, and generally countries with CP and not same-sex marriage only recognise foreign same-sex marriages as if they were CPs. Where your proposal that only CPs would be available in civil ceremonies runs into particular difficulties is for mixed-sex couples, because mixed-sex marriage is recognised world-wide, but mixed-sex CP is recognised in very few countries.

  28. The defintiion of sex and virgin needs to be re-defined!

    According to many definitions of virgin WE, unless you’re not gold star, are all virgins!

    It’s the same with sex! To me, the moment you have ANY sexual activity with someone (with out going into detail), and I don’t include kissing in this, you are no longer a virgin and you have had a sexual encounter, whether it’s groping or other wise!

    But then again, we’re having enough problems with the case in hand arn’t we!!

    1. Tim Hopkins 28 Jan 2013, 6:56pm

      Although the existing law defining “sexual activity” does include kissing, if a reasonable person would consider it to be sexual kissing. That’s why sticking your tongue down someone’s throat without consent can be the offence of sexual assault. So immediately we’re looking at a different definition of sexual activity for adultery purposes. And maybe a different one again for consummation purposes, unless we accept that a very quick grope is consummation. It’s not entirely simple!

  29. …a very true and obvious question is? Why do people seem to act and react to homosexuality as if anyone who is gay ought to know they’re less important and shouldn’t be taken seriously like their counterparts, heterosexuals.

  30. Frank Boulton 29 Jan 2013, 7:26am

    The notion of “consummation of marriage” should be removed from legislation about marriage in many countries, as it discrminates against some people with disabilities. Chuches and states only started to insist on consummation, when the Droit du Seigneur fell into disuse.

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