Written evidence from Derek Packman [HAB0263]
I am a married man who is committed to my wife and family including grandchildren who are growing up in a very different world from previous generations.
Co-habiting couples already have the option of marriage or civil partnership (where a well understood commitment is legally binding.) If they choose not to make a formal agreement then why should the state impose one upon them? Surely the answer is better education so that couples understand better the results of the relationship.
If cohabitees who have made no legal commitment have benefits (and liabilities) imposed upon them then this is a very dangerous step. It takes away the freedom of choice and imposes liabilities without mutual agreement. It also impoverishes marriage.
My wife and I made a conscious decision to get married. This was a public act of commitment. That marriage has been devalued by the state as marriages seem to be able to take place at private venues with no public commitment. Now we have well intentioned people wanting to give the same benefits to those who have made no such commitment.
This is the State taking away from individuals their freedom to choose how to live and taking away from married couples the whole meaning of what marriage means. It is a recipe for disaster as it would create uncertainty. Who would decide when a couple were trying out a relationship but not cohabitees or they when they were co-habitees? Would there be time limits? It gets even more complicated.
Government should not impose conditions on couples - that is interfering with human rights. Those rights already exist for those who choose to get married or enter a civil partnership.