Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Why we need clear definition of marriage

MARRIAGES are entered into for a wide variety of reasons – love, sex, procreation, economic support. It is a civil social contract between two people and between those two people and the society in which they live.

Before we can even consider the possibility of same-sex marriage we need a clear, unambiguous definition of 'marriage'. If that definition precludes same-sex marriage, we then need a clear definition of what a formal same-sex union might entail.

Same-sex civil partnership was introduced as a way of giving equality of recognition to gay couples, but it created inequality relative to people in general.

People choose to live together for a variety of reasons. Such people are denied the facility afforded to gay couples to register their commitment to each other. They are denied the benefits of formal commitment, including preferential tax avoidance status.

Before rushing through legislation allowing same-sex marriage, the inequality created by the introduction of same-sex civil partnership needs to be corrected, a formal definition of 'marriage' needs to be constructed and only then, if necessary, a formal definition of same-sex marriage. A parliamentary ballot based on those definitions could then be held. A ballot based on the present vague, ambiguous and varied understanding of 'marriage' is farcical and typical of half-baked, un-thought-through proposals by recent UK governments.

DENNIS GOLDEN

Strabane, Co Tyrone

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