I have often felt disgusted by the fact that homosexual partners can be excluded from sharing their SO’s last minutes because they “aren’t” family, and are unable to inherit, and all the other legal benefits that come along with marriage (here in Australia, but also elsewhere). And I thought, for a while, that civil unions was the solution. But as the conservative Christian opposition make perfectly clear, marriage is their domain and invention and nobody else’s. So I suggest the following modest solution – let them have it.
Instead, recognise that adult human beings are entitled to make whatever exclusive relationships they like, whether it is based on sex or just friendship. So let anyone, in or out of marriage, enter into an Exclusive Civil Partnership, irrespective of sex, gender or fashion sense.
And what is more, remove these rights from marriage contracts. If you want to have a spouse who can make medical decisions on your behalf or inherit your wealth, take out an ECP when you sign your marriage certificate. Delegalise marriage altogether. Make it a religious or social ceremony. There’s no justification for making a marriage between two people a legal contract, so make the contract separate and then old best mates who share a house and a fishing boat can sign an ECP, even if they’re straight, just as much as old lovers. You need not even sign an ECP when you marry. You could do it much later – think of the relief that would give the Family Court! Most marriages would dissolve before exclusive partnership rights were invoked.
Parental rights would be protected under general rules for parental responsibilities. We would, as a nation, recognise marriages of the old sort as equivalent to ECPs in Australia. And we could expect marriage+ECP to be recognised in other countries in the old way. But surely this makes a social ceremony, which varies from ethnic group, religion and tradition, into a proper rite of that ethny. And it makes the civil side of the contract a matter for legal control, without any kind of discrimination against race, sex, or preferred orientation.
How about it?