Next week parliament will vote on the thorny issue of titles for married gay partners. They will be asked to clear up laws dating as far back as 700 years. The changes are needed to ensure a gay married King could not style his husband Queen.
Under the previous arrangements of Civil Partnerships gay partners were not allowed courtesy titles as their unions were not deemed full marriage. This is the reason Sir Elton John’s partner David Furnish is not entitled to the dubious honour of being known as “Lady John”.
Once full gay marriage comes in next month gay Dukes could claim the title Duchess for their partners. This would also be true of other courtesy titles such as Princess of Wales, Countess and Lady.
One of the stranger proposed changes is to the 1351 Treason Act. It forbids sex with the Kings wife, but the proposed law will make clear that it is legal to have sex with his husband. This is presumably because such an act would not interfere with the Royal lineage, whereas sex with the Kings wife risks illegitimate children.
Campaigners are using the changes to reopen the debate about whether Britain was right to redefine marriage. Colin Hart, from the Coalition for Marriage, which opposes gay marriage said: “We repeatedly warned that the Government’s plans were ill thought out, complicated and would have a damaging effect on those who support traditional marriage.
“Those warnings were dismissed, yet just a few months later we have Ministers engaged in an unprecedented and systematic drive to airbrush out of law words like husband, wife and widow in order to make the legislation work.
“Worse still the Government has tried to sneak these changes out, when most of the country is worried about the plight of those families and areas affected by flooding.
“It is clear the Government is in a complete mess, which could have been prevented had they engaged in an open and meaningful debate, instead of ramming this through Parliament.
“Surely the Government should have tried to get this right before approving the bill?
“This is yet another attack on those who opposed the redefinition of marriage, or believe that equality is not just about destroying the institutions that have helped to bind us together for centuries for the sake of political correctness.”
There are already guidelines making it clear that only men can be husbands whereas only women can be wives.