The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'marriage'
The House of Commons voted today to legalise same-sex marriage in England and Wales; the bill passed by 400 votes for to 175 against. About a third of Conservatives voted for it, with slightly more voting against and the rest abstaining; a handful of Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs voted against it, though most voted in favour. (Aside: according to accounts of the session, there are surprisingly many openly gay Tory MPs in Britain, a sign that the country has moved on since Tory electoral materials openly carried homophobic dog whistles and Thatcher tried to push through Section 28.)
The bill now needs to pass through the House of Lords; in theory, this should not be too much of a problem for a bill with this degree of support. Assuming it makes it through, it will become law and gay couples will be able to marry and have equal status to opposite-sex married couples.
The public acceptance of homosexuality has been one of the greatest social changes of the past half-century. It is scarcely to be believed that there are still men alive who went to prison for practising it. The real breakthrough may come only when gay people cease to demand the exceptionalism of a "victimised" group, when they can shrug off the intolerance of a few, having won the acceptance of the many.A few residual anomalies will remain, however: it will be impossible for a same-sex couple to claim adultery as grounds for divorce, as adultery remains defined as an opposite-sex act (illicit hanky-panky with one of one's own sex falls under “unreasonable behaviour”, and barring a change in the law, will continue to do so even when one's spouse is of one's own sex), and nor is there any legal definition of non-consummation of a same-sex marriage. Also, while same-sex couples can marry, opposite-sex couples who dislike the idea of marriage still may not obtain civil partnerships, though those remain on the table for same-sex couples. What eventually happens to these anomalies remains to be seen.
Meanwhile in Australia, not only is there still bipartisan opposition to gay marriage in parliament, but the nominally progressive government is moving to allow religious groups broad exemptions from anti-discrimination laws, for example allowing Catholic hospitals to fire employees who are gay or have children outside of a marriage.
A modest proposal from security commentator Alec Muffett: Could we replace marriage with incorporation of private limited companies?
in the UK the biggest hurdle would be IR35 and certain aspects of expense policy, but you’d have a contract between the directors, clear dissolution clauses; all income could be directed to the corporation – taxed differently and offset against OPEX like nappies and so forth – and salaries paid out, plus it would own and depreciate shared assets like houses and cars. You could avoid much income tax by taking dividends – I know tax avoidance is infra dig at the moment, but I’m thinking of the future here – and you could offshore your marriage for better breaks.
But there would be no gender issues – no incorporation is between a man and woman – plus you could have more than one company director, have corporations that outlast their founders, and in extreme circumstances outsource large chunks of the whole enterprise.
Gay marriage: the database engineering perspective, or how different definitions of the institution of marriage would be reflected in different (relational) database schemas. Not surprisingly, the strictly traditionalist schemas do hideously inelegant things like have different tables for men and women, or mark one gender as subordinate to the other (i.e., have the males table contain a wife_id column), while the most elegant ones reduce marriage to a type of edge in generalised social networking, leaving policy (can you marry yourself for tax reasons? can more than two people be married?) outside of the schema.
I wouldn't be surprised if, at some point, some technically ignorant legislator in some conservative backwater proposed a law requiring databases to have separate tables for men and women or something similarly brain-damaged.
A heterosexual couple in London are planning to sue for the right to enter a civil partnership. Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle want the same rights as a married couple, but reject the separate-but-equal doctrine that separates gay and straight couples into "civil partnerships" and "marriages". Unfortunately, the law insists that, being heterosexual, they are only entitled to marriage (an institution with its roots in religious tradition, to the point that the government created "civil partnership" to keep the queers from defiling it with their existence).
Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, both 25, want the same legal rights as any husband and wife, but said they did not want to be seen to be "colluding with the segregation that exists in matrimonial law between gay civil partnerships and straight civil marriage".
The couple applied for a civil partnership at Islington register office, in north London, but were refused because UK law bans opposite-sex civil partnerships.Freeman and Doyle have the support of gay- and human-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
I wish them the best of luck. To say that a heterosexual couple's partnership automatically lumps them in with all other heterosexuals and separates them from non-heterosexuals is a denial of freedom of association. Furthermore, it casts light on the oddness of the concept of "marriage", which, on one hand, is a secular institution provided by a secular state, and on the other hand is robed in so much fusty religious tradition that the state imposes absolutely inflexible barriers along lines of ancient prejudice. It would be far more sensible to abolish secular marriage altogether, and have the state-recognised component be a civil partnership; if couples want to get married by their church (and their church approves), they could do that in addition to the state institution. The process could be streamlined, with churches acting as agents for the civil partnership agency whilst performing marriages, but at the end, all partnered couples, gay and straight, religious and irreligious, would have exactly the same title and status in the eyes of the law.
The Age reports that Australians wishing to marry Britons will soon need permission from the British Home Office; this is as a measure applying to all non-EU citizens to prevent sham marriages for purposes of immigration. Though most of the time when Britons marry Australians, isn't it for a new life somewhere sunny resembling Summer Bay/Sylvania Waters/Ramsay Street?
And now, a few topical stories for today's Hallmark Event:
- The latest plague in the dating ecosystem is the "Whimpster"; which seems to be like a cross between a metrosexual and a pathologically insecure emo boi:
Simply put: He is male. He is white. He is wimpy. He looks a little bit emo, a little bit hipster, and he's more dangerous than you'd think. So, the next time you wake up next to someone whispering acrimonious nothings about his ex-girlfriend instead of going down on you, you'll know a little more about this seemingly gentle boy you went home with. This is the 'dark side' of Lloyd Dobler, of our precious Duckie, and life with him is much different after the credits roll. Whimpsters are men who use cultural artifacts and politically correct platitudes in place of the empty spaces where real thought and emotion should be. Whimpsters are men who unwittingly enjoy Bukowski's misogyny. Whimpsters walk a tenuous tightrope between their secreted, terribly warped masculinity and the mainstream manliness that they claim to abhor.
(I wonder what happens when a whimpster meets a quirkyalone.)
- If you have the fortune to be non-heterosexual, there are now lots of things you can call yourself, from traditional words like "gay" and "lesbian" to niche genders like "boydyke", "genderqueer" and "boi" (which, here, doesn't mean "masculine specimen of alternative yoof subculture") (via FmH)
- A US psychologist has devised a mathematical model that can predict divorce with 94% accuracy, by studying videotapes of arguments within couples and analysing modes of interaction and physiological data to get "bitterness ratings".
New research shows that men who get married are more likely to suffer mental health problems, whilst men who remain single are most likely to suffer depression, with simply shacking up with a partner being the optimum solution. For men, that is; for women, unmarried cohabitation is, according to the Queen Mary University study, the worst of all options, with celibacy being best, followed by marriage. More ammunition for the claim that heterosexuality is an inherently adversarial zero-sum proposition.
Scientists prove that marriage kills creativity; working from a database of bigraphies of scientists, they discovered that creative genius gets turned off like a tap as soon as one marries and settles down; much the same thing applies to geniuses in music, painting and writing. The good news is that criminality suffers much the same fate (which suggests something like what Greg Egan termed the Clockwork Orange Hypothesis; that genius and criminality or violence are interrelated). The decline in testosterone levels after a man settles down is believed to be related; it is unclear, though, whether the study was performed exclusively on men or on both men and women.
Though that may be why all the well-known writers and artists out of their 20s have rocky relationship histories; perhaps they're just the ones who escaped domestication?
Why are many men avoiding marriage these days? Because it's a mug's game. (via one.point.zero)
(Insert topical Morrissey lyric here) The institution of marriage, once nigh-mandatory for all not sworn to religious solitude, is in decline; according to Peter McDonald of the Australian National University, one in four young people today will never marry, mostly out of choice. This is partly because of the trend towards postponement of marriage; however, even counting de facto relationships, long-term coupling is also in decline.
Professor McDonald said coupling trends in Australia had changed drastically but had now settled and were expected to stay put. This allowed the ANU to estimate Australia's future marital make-up. "It's extremely unlikely we'll go back to the extremely early marriages that we had in the '50s and '60s, when women were married as teenagers, which is pretty amazing now," he said. "People just got married, very often, to the first person they went out with. They didn't think about it very much. These days, people often have several partners before they get married."
That probably won't stop our back-to-the-1950s federal politicos; how much do you want to bet that tax breaks towards early marriage (i.e., punitive taxation for single people) or some similar social engineering scheme will be floated in Federal Parliament...