Written evidence from David N Adams [HAB0061]
I am responding to the call from the Women and Equalities Committee in respect of their consultation of their proposal to give ‘cohabiting couples’ the same rights as married couples.
As an observation I note the title of the Committee and its composition. Apparently it consists of 8 women, two gay men and one straight man. Where is the Equality unless there is a Parliamentary Committee of Men and Equalities????
I have to say I read the Committee’s suggestion with some incredulity – but it wasn’t April 1st!!
As a for instance, I could be against driving but still want the benefits but refuse to take a driving test which brings legal responsibilities to the role. Following the committee’s reasoning I would be given the chance to drive without taking a test and presumably Insurance on the ground of Equality??
Marriage is a commitment and with this commitment comes some moral and legal responsibilities. The commitment is made in public and the responsibilities are clearly defined.
Cohabitation comes with no commitment, no responsibilities and even has no legal definition. One dictionary definition describes it as ‘Living together as husband and wife’. Since there are no suitable words to define the relationship , presumably any attempt to define it would have to involve heterosexual words in the same way that same sex couples have adopted ‘husband and husband ‘and ‘wife and wife’. How would your definition ensure that the definition didn’t include tenants, lodgers and people who just happen to live together for convenience and are not in a relationship (whatever that means?)?
It is known that marriages between men and women are more stable than other relationships and provide stability for the upbringing of children. Recent figures show that by the time they turn five, 53% of children of cohabiting parents will have experienced their parents’ separation; for five-year-olds with married parents, this is 15%.
There is nothing preventing couples who want the legal protections of marriage, to get married. An alternative – civil ceremony- has already been created with much ceremony and little take up. To create a third form would be ludicrous in the extreme.
Most of the rights attached to marriage flow naturally from the lifelong commitment. If a couple have committed to one another until death separates them, the law automatically provides for when such a death occurs. Not so with other casual relationships.
It is a ridiculous statement to suggest that because there is a perception in the general public (common law relationships) that these carry the same rights as a legal marriage , that the law should be changed. If someone has an accident in a car they are charged according to the Law (and as is often stated ‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse).
There is considerable evidence that the health of married couples is better and in particular for men as they have less heart problems, better cancer survival rates, a lower risk of depression and greater satisfaction in retirement. Presumably this is of less interest to the feminine dominated Committee.
I would question whether the Committee should spend it’s time more on meaningful subjects and look closely at some of the inequalities that currently exist between men and women and particularly in respect of Family Law often to the denigration of men.
I wish to formally record my opposition to this proposal.