Written evidence submitted by Mr Patrick Couch [HAB0088]
Call for evidence
The Rights of Cohabiting Partners
When marriage was ‘redefined’ so that homosexual partners could ‘marry,’ the very nature of marriage itself was undermined. Sadly, I think that this has led to an irretrievable situation, and that we are going to see further challenges to marriage in the future. The desire of the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee to give cohabiting couples the same financial rights as those who are married is such an example.
Before its redefinition, the public commitment of marriage was known to promote stability, not only in the family, but as the bedrock of a stable society. Because of this, it is hardly surprising that marriage had a particular legal status. Its benefits for both adults and children ought to be promoted, and not undermined. By giving the same legal rights to those who freely choose not to give a public commitment of marriage to one another, the nature of marriage will be further discredited. Indeed, rather than the promotion of marriage, cohabitation will be promoted. This will lead to further family breakdowns (53% of children of cohabiting parents have experienced the separation of their parents) and additional expense to society (apparently the cost to the public purse of such breakdowns is over fifty billion pounds each year).
Surely, if couples want the legal protections of marriage, they are free to get married! We already have civil partnerships which include no life-long commitments. Adding yet another option will inevitably undermine marriage even further.
I do wonder whether or not the difficulties experienced by cohabiting couples are being overstated. As it is, these difficulties can be addressed by other means, such as dealing with concerns about inheritance by making arrangements through a will.
As a husband who has appreciated the many benefits of being married, I am grateful that the law automatically provides for when death will ultimately separate me from my wife. As a ‘right’ it flows naturally from our lifelong commitment. I do not think that it should apply to those who have not made such a commitment. To be sure, my wife and I have had to work hard to make our marriage work, but there is no doubt that it has been well worthwhile, and that ‘work’ has brought us ever closer to one another.
I would far rather prefer the public purse to be used to support and encourage ‘traditional’ marriage, that is, marriage before it was redefined.
It dismays me greatly that those who represent people such as myself are willing to consider the further undermining of an institution, which, for centuries, has been clearly defined and has proved to be essential for the well-being of families and the nation. It seems to me that we are a nation that is so driven by expressive individualism that we are no longer able to recognise the destruction it is wreaking on our society.
If people freely choose not to marry, then the law should not treat them as if they were married. Let us seek to do everything possible to support and encourage marriage, for that will have the best outcome for the nation.