Monday, July 5, 2010

Marriage lite, again

I wrote previously about France, where the availability of "marriage lite" , or civil unions (called pacs), has led to a loss of "traditional marriage". The partnerships are available to gay and straight, but "real" marriage is available only to straights. But more and more young straights opt for the unions rather than marriage. Now, whose fault is that?

Now the BBC tells us about a straight couple in Austria who want access to that country's civil unions, instead of marriage, precisely because it is not the same.
"The couple involved already have grown up children and are not interested in adopting," says their lawyer, Helmut Graupner.

"They are more interested in a more loose, modern form of partnership with a shorter time period for divorce and lower maintenance obligations afterwards."
Got that? By ensuring that GLBT people can't be tied together in "real" marriage, they undercut the whole concept.
Mr Graupner is also representing two Austrian same-sex couples, one gay and other lesbian, wanting a traditional marriage.

He has an argument that applies to both sets of clients: "You can't be a little bit equal, in the same way as you can't be a little bit dead or a little bit pregnant. You can only be equal or unequal."
France's Pacs has some similarities. There are tax advantages and, for many straight couples, it seems like a low-risk stepping stone to marriage.

Delphine Rorive a 31-year-old management consultant "Pacsed" her boyfriend Frederic Morel, 29, in July last year.
"We just wanted to pay less taxes," she says.....

And what of the future? "To me, it doesn't replace marriage. I'd still like to get married one day."
So marriage-lite is like pretend or practice marriage. It's not the same thing, and it's not enough. These European cases are great examples of that fact. If they do not involve the same commitments and expectations, it is not the same as marriage. It continues to be a master irony that by blocking GLBT from marriage, the "marriage advocates" are causing the decline of the traditional state far more than would occur if they simply allowed GLBT couples the rights to civil marriage.

Sadly, the European Court of Human Rights has decided that lesser is acceptable.
European nations do not have to allow same-sex marriage, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled, though gay rights groups claimed a partial victory Friday because the court acknowledged growing agreement that their relationships should be recognized in law.....

Six EU states — Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Norway and Spain — have legalized gay marriage. About a dozen others, including Britain, Germany, France and — since January — Austria, have legal partnerships... .


JCF said...

Now, whose fault is that?

The Wingnuts will blame Teh Gays. It's a given.

Erika Baker said...

But please again, Civil Partnerships in Germany and in Britain are not marriage lite.
The have a different name, but all rights and responsibilities are the same.

I know you have an agenda here, but seen from within Europe, it really isn't that simple.

Erika Baker said...

IT, did you delete the comment I posted here earlier?
This strange thing is happening on a few blogs at the moment, where my comments are published as soon as I post them, and then disappear without a trace some time later.
I'd almost be happier to think they'd been deleted than that I have an invisible censor.

IT said...

Nope, Erika, I would never delete your comments.

The US does not recognize your civil union. So this actually is an issue.

Erika Baker said...

Oh, now it's back!
How strange!

Ah, in that case, there are two issues. One is what the US does and doesn't recognise, the other is what the respective legal arrangementes mean in the countries where they are in force.

Does the US recognise the marriages in the 6 EU states?
And would it recognise marriages between 2 US citizens if they had taken place in one of those 6 EU countries?

But one of your points was that marriage-lite *is* pretend or practice marriage.
And that, certainly in Britain and Germany, is simply not the case.

It's not about the name, it's about the legal set-up that lies behind the name.

IT said...

Well, it's very clear that the pacs in france and the Austrian statute are "lesser". Since even the EU can't agree on a common standard, across all countries, I suggest to you that whatever your partnership means in the UK might be rather different than what it means when you visit France.

I believe that the US will not recognize any same-sex relationships, you are right about that.

Erika Baker said...

The EU is a collection of independent nation states, they don't have to agree on things like this.
But they do recognise each other's legislation, so if you have pension rights as a surviving same sex spouse in England they will also be paid to you if you retire to any of the other EU countries, whatever their legislation on same sex relationships may be.

IT said...

Interesting. That is not the case in the US, proving yet again that in some ways the EU ties its states together far closer than the USA does.