Relations Reporting on marriage, family, and sexuality

A flimsy marriage alternative

Family | Britain extends civil partnerships to heterosexual couples
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 10/19/18, 04:27 pm

British Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this month said she would introduce legislation to allow civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples. The announcement followed a ruling by the United Kingdom’s highest court this summer that current policy unlawfully discriminates by allowing marriage or civil partnerships for same-sex couples but only marriage for opposite-sex couples. The couple who took their case to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Charles Keiden and Rebecca Steinfeld, argued that marriage was an oppressive and patriarchal arrangement.

“This change in the law helps protect the interests of opposite-sex couples who want to commit, want to formalize their relationship, but don’t necessarily want to get married,” May said in her announcement. “By extending civil partnerships, we are making sure that all couples, be they same-sex or opposite-sex, are given the same choices in life.”

Civil partnerships provide virtually all the parental and inheritance rights of marriage, and proponents claim the arrangement offers a legal recognition of a relationship without the so-called baggage of marriage. But marriage advocates decry that reasoning.

“Couples who want to commit prefer the real thing, which is marriage,” Harry Benson of The Marriage Foundation told the Daily Mail. “Patriarchy is far more common in an unmarried cohabiting relationship, where men tend to be less committed.”

Recent statistics from England and Wales reveal people are fleeing civil partnerships faster than they are entering them. Last year, more same-sex couples dissolved civil partnerships (1,217) than formed them (908), according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics in August. In contrast, for every 1,000 married opposite-sex couples in 2017, just 8.4 divorced. Rates of same-sex civil partnerships have steadily dropped since the legalization of same-sex marriage in Great Britain in 2014, but that has no bearing on the skyrocketing rates of dissolution.

The London-based Coalition for Marriage asked why any government would want to push this option for couples and families. The fragile substitute offers couples all the benefits of marriage without the responsibilities or commitment, something that will disproportionately hurt children.

“The gold standard of commitment is marriage; with the declarations made in the presence of witnesses and the expectation of lifelong faithfulness,” said Sharon James, a spokesperson for the coalition, which lobbied against the alternative. “Civil partnerships just don’t offer that and will weaken marriage by creating a two-tier system, offering a sort of marriage-lite option.”

Associated Press/Photo by Jennifer Sinco Kelleher Associated Press/Photo by Jennifer Sinco Kelleher Attorney Rebecca Copeland (left) argues a child support case involving a lesbian couple before the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Presuming the impossible

The Supreme Court of Hawaii earlier this month ruled in a landmark case about same-sex parental rights. The ruling comes as more and more lesbian couples are in court disputing parental rights to the children of one of the women in the relationship and a sperm donor.

The justices upheld a lower court ruling that a woman whose spouse conceived a baby with a sperm donor without her consent while the two were legally married is presumed to be the child’s biological parent under the state’s Uniform Parentage Act and therefore must pay child support.

When Hawaii established same-sex marriage in 2013, the state said any sex-specific terminology in state law—husband, wife, widow, widower—must be read as “gender-neutral” when it comes to the rights and protections of marriage. State law establishes a presumption that a child conceived by a man’s wife is his, therefore a child conceived by a woman who is married to another woman is the child of both women, even though it isn’t biologically possible.

“It is ironic that advocates of redefining marriage insisted the institution has nothing to do with procreation,” Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, told me. “The rash of ‘presumed parentage’ court cases proves otherwise.”

He said that if marriage does not relate to procreation, the presumption of paternity should not be applied to same-sex unions. But, instead, we have “gone from ‘presuming’ something that is almost always true—that the husband is the father of a child born to his wife—to ‘presuming’ what cannot possibly be true—that the same-sex spouse is ‘parent’ of a child born to her partner,” Sprigg said. “This is an absurdity.”

Of the five justices who ruled in Hawaii, three said the lack of consent to artificial insemination does not negate the presumption of parentage. (After all, what would that mean for the man whose wife stopped taking birth control without his consent.) The other two justices said lack of consent could be used to challenge parentage but that the former spouse did not prove her lack of consent.

“While there are details unique to each case, I believe that in the absence of a legal adoption or some contractual agreement regarding the conception and birth of this child—neither of which were present here, the courts should not ‘presume’ the impossible,” Sprigg said. —K.C.

Facebook/International Pronouns Day Facebook/International Pronouns Day Buttons promoting International Pronoun Day

He said, she said

Transgender activists proclaimed Wednesday as the first International Pronoun Day, dedicated to the idea that “referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is a basic human dignity.” More than 300 nonprofit organizations, government groups, businesses, colleges, and universities signed on to celebrate the so-called holiday.

Organizers said people should introduce themselves to others with a name and preferred pronouns—he, she, they, or something made up—and always ask others their preferred pronouns before assuming, or “misgendering,” them. The activists claim assuming a pronoun is on par with assuming a stranger’s name. Last year, California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed legislation that threatened jail time to healthcare professionals who “willfully and repeatedly refuse to use a patient’s preferred pronouns.”

But Christians should understand that, far from a neutral common courtesy, the pronouns we use demonstrate our understanding of creation and sex, said Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a WORLD News Group board member. “Christians thinking of Biblical terms need to … recognize that language reveals our moral understanding, our worldview,” Mohler said during his podcast The Briefing. “The use of ‘he’ and ‘she’ reflects the fact that we understand humans to be made male and female.” —K.C.

Associated Press/Photos by Francois Mori (file) Associated Press/Photos by Francois Mori (file) French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Trogneux

A full house by choice

Mothers responded in force this week to a comment by French President Emmanuel Macron at a Gates Foundation event pushing contraception and abortion. “Present me the woman who decided, being perfectly educated, to have seven, eight, or nine children,” said Macron, doubting such women existed.

It appears there are actually quite a few.

Using the hashtag #postcardforMacron, educated mothers of large families are raising their hands on the internet and posting really cute photos, to boot.

Macron, 40, has no children of his own, but his wife, Brigitte Trogneux, who is 24 years his senior, has three children from a previous marriage. —K.C.

Kiley Crossland

Kiley is a former WORLD correspondent.

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  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Fri, 10/19/2018 07:09 pm

    I actually support having government get out of the marriage business.  Government can provide civil contracts for whatever.  Let them call it a civil partnership and let what churches do be called marriage.  Let God define what marriage means and let Ceasar have his coinage.

  • Laneygirl's picture
    Posted: Sun, 10/21/2018 05:26 pm

    Relationships are a living Jenga game nowadays. My husband's company provides same sex benefits even though now they can get "married", but do not provide the same for cohabitating hetero's. When you pull the bottom out of the truth, your tower of lies needs tricky work to stay up.

  • KeithT
    Posted: Sun, 10/21/2018 07:32 pm

     You mentioned some of the common benefits. What are some of the dissimilarities?

  •  phillipW's picture
    Posted: Mon, 10/22/2018 11:59 am

    Will the last Christian to leave the planet, please take the Bible with them.

    I am so confused by all of this.  Pontius Pilate was a man before his time when he mocked Jesus with, "What is truth?"