(Original post by Clip)
One of my pet topics, and possibly the subject of my dissertation.
I'm not against gay marriage as a concept - but I personally don't see what's wrong with civil partnership.
My concern would be that gay marriage would open up a legal can of worms that would have knock-on effects for a lot of other things.
First off - it's clear that the law believes that sex (and not necessarily procreation) is an important part of marriage. A marriage is voidable if there has been no consumation. Now currently, there is no consumation requirement for a CP - this may be because of the technical difficulties in defining a perfect and complete sex act for lesbians, or because of a reluctance to consider anal sex as a consumation. In any case - there is no requirement.
Let's accept then, that gay marriage would have no consumation requirement. Half the arguments against CP are that equal status is insufficient -and that gay people should have exactly the same ceremony and legal status. In this case, the natural result is to remove the consumation requirement from heterosexual marriages.
Sounds ok - but I see this as a potential timebomb for further down the line. If there is no consumation requirement - this is effectively saying that sex - or rather proof of sex is no longer a requirement of marriage. A sexual relationship is legally viewed as that which separates a platonic friendship from a marriage-type partnership. Without the sex requirement - the door is now open to some unforeseen consequences:
1. Prohibition on grounds of consanguinity. Prohibitions on incest are what makes this part of the law tick. The prohibition against marrying ex in-laws were removed for this very reason. If it's not illegal to have sex, then it's not a void marriage. Following exactly the same rationale, the incest prohibition would go out the window, and presumably some closer relatives would be free to marry.
2. In the same vein - marriage may be defined as a non-sexual union. There would be no bar to platonic marriages - which people might freely enter for financial advantage. Brothers and sisters could marry for significant tax advantages. People who are simply friends may marry with no intention of sexual relationship.
3. What effect would this have on adultery and divorce? Surely this advances the idea of no-fault divorce? If sex is not a requirement of marriage, then why would adultery then be an issue? If adultery is no issue - then similarly what defines behaviour? We may end up with no-fault divorce on demand.
These things may suit the people marrying for "new" reasons, but would cause serious problems for couples (gay or straight) marrying for the "traditional" reasons.