Insights and inspiration
Same Sex but Different
18 September 2014
A recent article has pointed to some very unusual consequences of the introduction in the UK of same sex marriage. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force on 13 March 2014.
In heterosexual marriage in the UK there are five grounds for divorce. Three are fault based, one of which is adultery. The other two involve periods of separation with or without consent. So for a heterosexual couple a divorce can be granted on the grounds of adultery.
Forgive us for being a little clinical now, but adultery has a very precise legal definition in the UK, and a same sex couple cannot commit adultery. That being so, same sex couples can divorce on four grounds, but heterosexual couples on five.
If the law is supposed to embody public ideas about morality (it isn't really) does this reflect a view of the UK Parliament that sexual morality in same sex relationships is more relaxed? We'd guess not, more likely, nobody thought about it.
Another peculiarity is that there is a precise definition of the notion of being unable to consummate a marriage. Under UK law you can apply to nullify your marriage on the grounds of inability to consummate. This is again, clinically and by reason of very precise definition, impossible for same sex couples.
That is very peculiar and we wonder whether the UK Parliament, before passing these laws, gave any thought to those consequences.
While the law is an ever evolving creature, the law of unintended consequences seems constant.
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