On sex, other kinds of sex, and gay marriage

Sexy feet
This is not OK. (Photo: Getty)

Hurrah! Gay marriage has been made legal and we can all marry our dogs and our brothers and so on. But something’s been bothering me for a while about it all, and now seems the time to bring it up.

Apparently one of the main objections to it has been that the creators of the Equal Marriage Act have not come up with a definition of sex, so consummation and adultery have been dropped. It’s that which has led people like our own Norman Tebbit and Charles Moore to worry that it’s separated marriage from sex, and so, thus decoupled, it will end up with the joining in holy matrimony of one man and fourteen ducklings or whatever.

I’ve replied on this subject before, because while I may think it’s a bit silly, serious well-meaning people think it’s  a real problem. But in it, I wrote this:

I find this a bit baffling, as it suggests that a married man could do anything he liked with a woman who wasn’t his wife, as long as it wasn’t vaginal sex, and his wife would have no grounds for divorce. If the lawmakers are really so incompetent that they couldn’t get around that, then we have bigger worries.

And a lawyer got back to me, on Twitter and the comments, and said: that’s what the law says. Not in the Equal Marriage Act. That’s just the law of marriage and adultery, as it already stood. For the divorce courts, it seems, only traditional vaginal sex matters. So, in theory, I could go out and do all sorts of filthy things, many of which would be illegal in some US states, with a variety of women and in fact men to whom I am not married, and my wife would have no recourse in law.

Actually, of course, I could do no such thing. My wife would divorce me in a moment, using “unreasonable behaviour” as a pretext, and she would be entirely right to do so. And any divorce court in the land would find me utterly without a leg to stand on, because while “adultery” might involve vaginal sex, the law isn’t actually stupid. So, marriage hasn’t been divorced (ha!) from sex. Stand down, everyone, and step away from the dogs.

Read more by Tom Chivers on Telegraph Blogs
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