SITTING ON OPTIONS:   Fact sheet distibuted Oct 24, 2002 at Xtra!'s public forum "Shotgun Wedding" / Side 1

Beyond Marriage:

Getting the state out of all the nation's bedrooms

In January 2002 the Law Commission of Canada released a report on the
legal recognition, support, and regulation of close personal relationships between adults without children.
The LCC did not ask: "Gay marriage: Yes or No?" They asked a bigger question:

What role should the state play in our intimate lives?

They looked beyond marriage, to a wide and varied range of personal connections.
Their report was called Beyond Conjugality. In it they urged governments considering laws
that may affect the personal lives of grown-ups to ask four questions:

Is a law's intent legitimate state business?
If so, are close personal relationships relevant to that intent?
If so, can people be free to define those relationships for themselves?
If not, can the state define "the relevant range of relationships"?

The LCC suggested the state apply certain "fundamental values" to those questions:

Equality between relationships
The state should "not accord one form of relationship more benefits or legal support than others."

Equality within relationships
"To overcome unequal distributions of income, wealth, and power ... or the lack
of state support for persons with disabilities."

Personal autonomy
Requiring the state "to put in place the conditions in which people can freely choose their relationships."

Personal security
To enhance "the ability of individuals to make healthy choices about entering or remaining in relationships."

Personal privacy
Avoiding "rules that require intrusive examinations into, or forced disclosure of, the intimate details of personal adult relationships, unless the relationship involves violence or exploitation." (Like "spouse in the house" rules imposed on common-law couples, usually to declare one a "dependent spouse" ineligible for social assistance.)

Freedom of conscience and religion
The state should "not take sides in religious matters."

The recommendations in  Beyond Conjugality  reflect those values. They
cover a range of laws: on taxation, immigration, court testimony, bankruptcy and beyond. They propose
"a fundamental rethinking of the way in which governments regulate relationships."

Those 33 recommendations incorporate key ideas meant to achieve not just formal equality between marriage-like relationships, but justice and respect for all of us -- in whatever meaningful relationships we may choose.

You'll find those ideas on the back of this page.

GO ON TO:  Side 2    /   Or go back to:  Beyond dither?

This page:
October 2002 / Posted on this site: November 15, 2002
Rick Bébout © 2002 /