A Question For The Assembled

(Yeah, I know – posting late of Friday night is a great way to get people to ignore your post. HeNver mind.)

As per my workblog earlier, there is a case before the courts, of a lesbian charged with bigamy – of making a false statement to the registrar at a civil commitment ceremony. Because she was already married. To a man – presumably the husband she has not get divorced,

She has plead not guilty, and the case has been referred to the Crown Court. I don’t know if it’s because she’s bloody minded, or because she wants to be the test case that establishes the law on this.

Now it seems open and shut to me – we have a law that says that you cannot be married to more than one person, so yeah, it’s bigamy.

But it was pointed out to me that other people do not consider marriage and a civil commitment to be the same thing. This was something of a shock to me, because to me, they’re doing exactly the same thing: you get up in front of a crowd, you pledge your devotion, and you then get tax breaks, etc[1]. God does not enter into it. In my view, you’re as married or not in the eyes of your god as you choose to be. You might not be married in the eyes of your church, but your god is up to you. But then, while I can understand faith, and a relationship with god, the concept of belonging to a church totally and utterly eludes me. I don’t understand why you’d give a body of other humans veto on the nature of your relationship with god.

But marriage is an institution of the church, and so the two are not the same thing, in some people’s eyes. And if they’re being denied marriage, why should they worry about it when they’re pledging their civil commitment?

But on the other hand: it is surely not fair to the great mass of people in this country that a person should get two sets of the same tax break, when it is explicitly denied to most people. Surely the courts must take the view that just because the church that people choose to belong to denies them marriage, it is not incumbent on the state and the rest of the taxpayers to make up for it?

Or, alternatively, should we simply allow everyone to have both a marriage and a civil commitment? Or is that unfair to those that cannot have marriage, because their church denies it to them?

I’d be interested to hear what people feel on this one…

[1] I am quite willing to be corrected that the tax breaks differ, which would add another dimension to this…

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