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Men and women – equal or the same?

March 4, 2012

There seems to be some confusion in the UK news and comment recently. No-one disputes now that both sexes should have the same rights in criminal, civil and employment law. The problems arise when this is extended.

Insurance premiums are based on risk. It’s not considered wrong to vary house or car insurance premiums depending on age, type of car or residential area as the perceived and recorded risk varies. But now female drivers can’t have lower premiums even though, on average, they are involved in fewer accidents so they are a lower risk. Again on average, they live longer. So their life insurance premiums should be lower.

Until today ( BBC news ) the Red Arrows display team had a female pilot. But should anyone expect all sports to be unisex? How many women would you expect to see playing league football or in a 100m final? Sometimes, to allow equal opportunity to men and women, we have to recognise that they are not the same and, in some respects, not equal.

Which all brings me to one of today’s big news items in the UK, The government’s plans for gay marriage: BBC news. I, personally, have no problem with gay men or women, transvestites, transexuals or whatever. It’s their lives. I have no problem with gay couples entering into a legally binding partnership which gives them the same legal rights with regard to tax, inheritance, pensions, house ownership and many other aspects of life today. However, any such partnership cannot, to my mind, be called a marriage, even if blessed by a representative of a religious order.

Who could deny that, biology permitting, one of the main expectations of a marriage is and has probably always been children.  Many gay couples adopt children. Being gay does not deny natural desires to be parents. But, unless laws relating to genetic engineering change radically, the birth of a child will still require sperm, egg and womb. Hence, in my view and in the view of many others, the idea of a family as ideally being a married man and woman still has great merit. Single parents often struggle to cope. The children of a single parent may suffer, too. “Teenagers in single-parent families and in blended families are three times more likely to need psychological help within a given year. (Peter Hill “Recent Advances in Selected Aspects of Adolescent Development” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 1993)”; just one statistical fact easily found with a little research.

Conversely, recent research seems to indicate that children of stable same-sex partnerships or marriages can benefit greatly from that arrangement. For example: this research.

The (legal) definition of something like marriage will vary in different cultures and as times and law change. Such changes will come about by majority social opinion and, perhaps, as a legal or economic necessity. But not, I would suggest, at the whim of a Prime Minister, which is how it seems here today.


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