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Well, it’s the 21st Century after all …

We’re all products of our own age, or perhaps that should be ‘… of our own lives between the ages of 18 and 24’?

I like to think that I’m a liberal (with a small ‘L’) sort of a guy who embraces the proposition that we should all be able to do exactly what we want, provided of course that it doesn’t infringe the basic human rights of anyone else, or harm them,  and/or offend them, or refuse them the right say no, or indeed requires that they have to do things they’d rather not.

Bear with me, I’m trying to cover a lot of bases here. When it comes to the field of sexual proclivity, for example, I guess it can get kind of complicated.

Can a sadist and a masochist ever be happy together? I’m asking the question because surely (at least towards one end of the spectrum) there must be sadists who might find such a proposition impossible. After all, if you’re someone who gets your kicks from denying someone their freedom and/or inflicting pain … how can you truly get your rocks off if you know that the other person is actually enjoying being treated in that fashion?

And couldn’t that also work another way around – in other words, is it not possible that, if you’re a masochist, knowing that the person tying you up and or spanking or caning you isn’t actually into that sort of thing at all … but is only doing it because you want them to … wouldn’t that spoil your ‘moment’, at least slightly?

I’m no religious zealot but then again I guess I’d have to plead guilty to being a tad homo-phobic, in the sense that I’m not fully behind full, total, 100% acceptance that gay people should be entitled to get married.

I’m all in favour of civil partnerships for gay people – with all attendant legal rights similar to those of marriage – but (call me old fashioned) it does seem to me that marriage as a legal union should really be reserved for relationships between one man and one woman. I wouldn’t go to the stake on the subject – I’m open to listening to alternative arguments and maybe even one day being persuaded to alter my views on the topic – but this is as far I’ve got so far.

friendsIn addition I’m concerned that, if you open the floodgates, where does it all stop?

I once followed a weblog in which [probably as a satirical gag, albeit given some of his weirder themes and reports, one was never quite sure] the author claimed to be campaigning for the right to enter a civil partnership with his dog.

This sounds completely absurd of course, but it did highlight one issue about the nature of relationships and/or the nature of human relationships and the law.

I was prompted to address this subject today as a result of seeing the following piece about a US gay couple in a long-term relationship on the website of – THE INDEPENDENT

Basically, the headline of the story is that – having entered an adoption arrangement many years ago – they now want to annul that arrangement so that they can declare their love to the world by entering a same-sex marriage (thereby embracing all the rights etc. that this would imply).

In one sense, why not?

It’s the same with the guy I mentioned earlier who wanted to enter a same-sex civil partnership with his dog. Whether you’re considering boyfriend and girlfriend relationships, engagements, marriages, civil partnerships or any other nature of arrangement, to what extent (if any) should sex be regarded as an issue within any of them?

Say a man and a woman got married in 1975 but haven’t engaged in sexual intercourse together since 1977? Does that make their forty-year marriage any less of an institution? Should it, even? [In what circumstances does, or might, ‘an absence of willingness to have sex with the other party’ become grounds for divorce under the ‘unreasonable behaviour’ category?].

And if you should decree that some form of sexual intimacy is required to maintain a proper marriage, how much sex are we talking about? A minimum of once every five years, once a year, once every five weeks … every five days … just what, exactly?

We’re entering the world of religion here, too. At one stage [I’m a bit hazy on whether we’re talking about the Church of England strain, or indeed the Roman Catholic church, but I suspect it was the former because the latter requires all its priests be celibate doesn’t it?] it was officially declared by an organ of Christianity that, whilst it was okay for a priest to have homosexual leanings, it wasn’t okay for him to be a practising homosexual. Now that’s really weird as a stance of principle. It seems to me that a real – and also unacceptable – case of authority prying unnecessarily into the bedroom habits of its subjects.

However, back to the point I’m trying to get to.

handsIt seems to me that once same-sex couples can get married, the dyke does rather get breached and the floodgates open. After all, if it’s a case of ‘any old how will do’, what’s to stop sham marriages (by some old-fashioned definitions) taking place in order say to take advantage of say property – or any other – law?

For example, why shouldn’t the daughter of a widower marry her father … and thereby qualify for the legal ‘spouse exemption’ on inheritance tax upon their marital home … if that’s what both of them would like to do?

What the sex angle got to do with it?

[Well, you might that incest is illegal and indeed therefore that a marriage that might result in incest taking place ought also to be illegal, but hang on – if they don’t commit ever incest, what’s their little arrangement got to do with anyone but themselves?].

I’m only asking because, being in a personal situation where my own father, a widower, has done precious little inheritance tax planning during his lifetime, I’m wondering whether I could persuade him to walk down the aisle with me, get married, and thereby … at some far-off point in the future, obviously … as his spouse, when he dies, I might automatically inherit his primary residence and thereby save the extended family the best part of £2 million in inheritance tax.

After all, if my father and I want to get married in this glorious day and age, what’s that got to do with anyone else?

You might argue that it’s a sham marriage designed for one purpose only – i.e. to avoid inheritance tax – and that is, or should be, illegal.

But all kinds of sham marriage take place every week in the UK, ranging from the people who have only met each other five minutes before the ceremony – one of them for payment, the other so that they can gain UK citizenship – right through to unions between tiny 95 year-old mentally and physically frail old men and 22 year-old pneumatic female bimbo gold diggers. Then you’ve got probably hundreds of thousands of UK marriages which subsist on a depressing diet of habit and inertia rather than any loving feelings between the parties involved.

What’s the definition of a genuine marriage in – and indeed is the state of a particular marriage actually relevant to – any of this?

Answers, please, on a postcard to the usual address …


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About Arthur Nelson

Looking forward to his retirement in 2015, Arthur has written poetry since childhood and regularly takes part in poetry workshops and ‘open mike’ evenings. More Posts