Why? As far as I'm concerned, any relationship that I'm in is purely the business of me and the other person concerned. If we want the government to get involved in our relationship, then we will go to an office of that government (i.e. a "registry office") and formally register our relationship with the state, with all the rights, responsibilities and limitations that this implies (i.e. "marriage").Is he right? Is this just another nannying intervention to help those who refuse to help themselves (or are too stupid, and believe in that "common law marriage" myth)?
Now there might be a case for allowing an alternative type of registration for those who have a problem with the word/concept of marriage. But I really think there is a very important principle here:
The right to get married must also include the right to not get married.
On the one hand, I utterly do not care about Melanie Phillips's "undermine marriage" objection, but on the other, I really don't like the idea that it's automatic. The whole thing brought to mined an excellent post on a similar subject by Natalie from awhileback, Why modern marriage is unrealistic, and what should replace it:
I’d suggest that instead, “marriages” should be five-year rolling contracts, to be renewed or adapted at the expiration of each period, by mutual negotiation between the parties. They might allow for periods of living apart (say if one person wants to travel for a year and the other doesn’t; they might allow for someone setting up their own space in the house to be restricted to them for a certain times … whatever works for the couple.)Personally, I much prefer this idea. Let's get the state out of regulating our personal lives, and let us determine how, and who, we want to give the legal status of "next of kin", with all that entails.
The terms of what happens at the end of the period should be agreed at the start.