Written evidence from Rev Martin Hagget [HAB0207]

I submit that changing the rights of cohabiting individuals to bring their position into closer alignment with that of married couples is unwarranted for the following reasons:

(1)    The decision to co-habit is not only a positive choice but also a negative choice. It involves a decision NOT to marry. It is therefore neither logical nor equitable to argue that cohabiting couples should be entitled to enjoy the same rights and benefits as married couples since they are (by choice) NOT in the same position as married couples.

(2)    Marriage is based upon and implies a very different level of commitment to co-habitation. It is thus appropriate that it should carry with it benefits and rights commensurate with that increased commitment and different from those associated with co-habitation, with its consciously-chosen lower level of commitment.

(3)    The financial commitment associated with marriage is of an altogether different order to that required by cohabitation. It is only equitable therefore that marriage should carry with it financial benefits commensurate with that commitment.

(4)    The private (family) and public (societal) health benefits which flow from the marriage state are widely regarded and sociologically confirmed to be of a different order (i.e. higher) than those associated with cohabitation. The family units connected with marriage have a much greater statistical likelihood of remaining intact than those connected with cohabitation. The welfare of children is greatly increased in a marriage unit as compared with a cohabitation unit.

(5)    It is inconsistent and inequitable to argue and to legislate for equal treatment of unequals.

June 2021