A recent article about the prospect of gay marriage, has as caused me think about the inevitability of some gay marriages ending in divorce.
Currently, a civil partnership is the closest we have in England to gay marriage. However, whereas a “straight” marriage can end in divorce due to adultery, the dissolution of a civil partnership does not allow this option. I presume that the prospect of gay adultery (ie. a gay relationship outside of the same sex civil partnership) was to much for Parliament to consider.
This current law is in line with the fact that “adultery” for the purpose of a straight divorce does not include the husband going off with another man, nor the wife going off with another woman. These are both circumstance which I have come across in practice, and both cases have resulted in divorce for “unreasonable behaviour” by the unfaithful spouse, rather than for the “adultery” which is what has actually happened.
Therefore, when we see new legislation to allow gay marriage (which I think is inevitable in our society), then why shouldn’t there also be gay adultery being recognised in law? This would require new law for both gay and straight divorce and should finally do away with the current legal imbalance between straight and gay couples.
An alternative approach, would be to reform divorce law entirely, doing away with the “fault” based divorce options of adultery and unreasonable behaviour altogether. This doesn’t have to mean that divorce is any easier nor that marriage is any less important, but for the majority of couples I deal with would help both people (and their kids) move on more smoothly without the need to apportion blame when the marriage has irrevocably broken down. Time to re-exam the proposed legislation in the Family Law Act 1996?
Telegraph: Don’t legalise gay marriage http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9045796/Dont-legalise-gay-marriage-Archbishop-of-York-Dr-John-Sentamu-warns-David-Cameron.html
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