Huge amount of legal work to do

I TOO am disappointed in the way in which our MP voted on gay marriages.

Almost 65 years ago I entered the legal profession. I am now a semi-retired family lawyer. I entered a lawyer’s office at a time, rare though it was, when the most complicated divorce cases were tried by judge and jury.

I well remember when dealing with a case in the Royal Courts of Justice seeing the plight of one woman who after the jury had been empanelled was standing in the witness box ready to tell her story about a broken marriage.

She was asked the date of her marriage. She couldn’t remember though knew that it was inscribed on the inside of her wedding-ring. She froze. Unfortunately try, though she did, the ring would not come off. Soap and water was not readily available. The judge was not at all sympathetic. All that, thankfully, has now changed as those who have been through the divorce courts will know.

Parliament has enacted that same-sex couples who enter into a civil partnership have roughly similar rights when their relationship breaks down as divorcing couples. Heterosexual couples who may have lived happily together for many years and then who split up do not enjoy the same rights. There is no such person as a ‘common law wife’. It is a myth.

The current law requires schools to teach children about the importance of marriage. If marriage is given a new definition it will be endorsed in schools. I am told that any teacher who fails to endorse same-sex marriage in the classroom could face dismissal.

Since we already have civil partnerships, isn’t same sex-marriage a logical extension? No. Re-writing the meaning of marriage will have far-reaching consequences.

More than 3,000 laws make reference to marriage. Government has admitted that documents will need to be re-written to remove words like ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. The Church of England has warned that it could lead to disestablishment and a constitutional crisis.

Fortunately I am nearing the end of my involvement in legal matters but I suspect my professional colleagues will say that they already have enough laws to cope with, made worse by Brussels, without yet further massive legislation to get to grips with and who, incidentally, would have thought when we voted to enter the Common Market that Britain would lose its sovereignty.

I am far from convinced that the proposal to re-define marriage has been properly thought through.

DEREK ALEXANDER

London Road

St Leonards