I am writing this following the recent debate about same-sex marriage – should it be allowed, should it go ahead, what do religious institutions feel about it.
But what does the Law say about it?
This encouraged me to look at the whole issue of void and voidable marriages.
A marriage is void if it is made, for instance, with prohibited degrees of relationship (for example fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters e.t.c. or if either party is under 16). There are also voidable marriages. A void marriage is void from the beginning and so is treated by both parties as never having taken place, therefore you do not need a Decree of Nullity. A voidable marriage is valid unless and until a Decree of Nullity has been granted, so this has to be applied for and the voidableness proven. A marriage is voidable if it has not been consummated or if either party did not validly consent (for instance with a forcibly arranged marriage) and also, interestingly, if at the time of the marriage, the Respondent was pregnant by someone other than the Petitioner. I do not very often come across void or voidable marriages.
But if you have a same-sex marriage I wonder how they get round some of these issues. What does consummated mean for instance? The Law can be so pedantic at times that it is going to have to sort out some of these issues for same-sex marriages to become lawful, never mind the issue of whether they are culturally acceptable.
From a legal point again, there is not a lot of difference between a marriage and civil partnership so legally we have already accepted the concept of same-sex marriages. Maybe, for once, the Law is ahead of society?
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