March 09, 2005

When the state should get out of the bedroom

[Interesting] issues were raised [The Herald reported] during debate in Parliament yesterday over the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill, the legislation designed to amend laws in the wake of the passing of the Civil Union Act. [The Bill] was returned to the House retaining distinctions in some laws between de facto couples and those who had opted to formalise their relationships - through marriage or civil unions. This followed Opposition and, belatedly, Government recognition that some de facto couples - heterosexual and same-sex - did not want to be legally treated as if they were married.
Interesting, indeed, but hardly surprising. The fault actually lies with the Social Security Act rather than with people who happen to live under same roof. If you are not allowed a benefit if you live in a relationship (hetero, homo, whatever) then you need a policed and enforced definition of a relationship. This is a recipe for disaster: a snooper's and blackmailer's charter against closeted couples. And a licence for the state to come rummage through your bedroom arrangements. The solution is, of course, to make social security eligibility on personal rather than relationship grounds. But this will cost $10 million, and the Government counted on this saving in social security payments by snaring more couples and used it as an argument for the Civil Union Bill.
I have thus far no intention to register my relationship and this should be no cause for discrimination.

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