In which I disagree with one of my colleagues


No, don't worry, my disagreeing with a colleague here at the ASI is not presaging our turning into a political party: it is possible to have disagreements without turning into the ferrets fighting in a sack which is the definition of a political party. The disagreement is with this piece.

In it Henry Oliver praises the movement to produce cohabitation rights. I would like to disagree vehemently. Offering up ones's gonads on a regular basis does not secure you a right to property. Nor does sharing a bed, a breakfast table nor even the joint production of children. What does secure you rights to property is the signing of a contract. And we have a contrat that covers these issues of gonads, offspring and property, it's called marriage. We have an entirely secular form of it, something that is available to any opposite sex couple of any race creed or colour and I can see no reason at all why those who wish to make contractual their relationship should not use it nor any why those who do not wish to do so should be forced, by legislation, to do so.

After all, the social history of the last hundred years or so could be largely written as a description of the retreat from the State telling us with whom we may have sex, where and when, and in what legal arrangement we must be when we do.

I do understand the conservative objections to this view: that cohabitation, or even some form of marriage light, would be damaging to hte institution of marriage. But I reject them as I'm not a conservative but a classical liberal. We only have the right to interfere in the affairs of others when they are harming others by their actions or restricting the freedoms of others similarly. Determining by legislation who gets to keep the parrot after a couple of years of consensual sex does not meet that test. 

If people want a contractual relationship to surround their romantic one we have one available called marriage. If they do not want such, which clearly those who have not spent 15 minutes at the Registry Office do not, then we should not force them into it.

It’s here to stay and we need effective laws to govern it.

And in what parallel universe can a classical liberal support this notion? Something exists so we must govern it?

Something exists that harms others so we must govern it is just fine and dandy. Something exists therefore it must be governed, something exists therefore there must be laws about it, takes us further down the road to the insistence that there must be laws about everything. Further down that desperately undesirable road where every action is determined by law and thus by the politicians that frame that law. Or worse, to becoming more like France.