Civil Sisterships?

An interesting piece in the Telegraph yesterday about two elderly sisters who want to be able to have a Civil Partnership so they can leave their property to each other without paying tax. The only problem is of course that since they are very close blood relatives they can’t and, they cry, that’s unfair. The House of Lords did examine this issue when they proposed to allow close relatives who had lived together more than 12 years to set up a Civil Partnership, but that amendment was thrown out by the Commons when it returned there for a further reading. Now of course the two ladies in question have absolutely no chance of winning their case as the law stands, but it raises an interesting point, because the way that the law was framed by the Commons in rejecting the Lords’ amendment was to make a Civil Partnership mimic so tightly marriage in the assumption that the relationship was sexual, that really there is very little to distinguish between the two. Andrew Goddard writes eloquently about this in his Grove Booklet Friends, Partners or Spouses, where he shows clearly that despite the official line that a Civil Partnership is not marriage, to all intents and purposes it is. Which raises the key reason why, the law given as it stands, the two sisters should NOT be allowed to win their case, because if they are allowed access to a Civil Partnership, by rational inference any man should be able to marry his sister. The issue here is NOT "gay" (or "straight") rights, though as I’ve written before, show me the gay (or straight for that matter) gene and I’ll happily press for those rights. No, the issue here is the protection of marriage from familial abuse and incestual damage. Were the law to change and the Civil Partnership legislation have all reference to sexual activity removed then we could look again. But that would produce a legal status that didn’t echo marriage and I’m not sure Stonewall and the like would be very happy.

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