20 Jun 2009

Same-sex recognition ironies

This SMH article nicely captures certain ironies around the state recognition of homosexual relationships. The basic irony is that the Australian government will suddenly go from completely refusing to recognise these, to mandating that they be recognised: that is, homosexual relationships will go from being utterly ignored by the state, to being closely surveilled; the state will now actively investigate benefit claimants to determine whether they are in homosexual relationships. This is particularly irksome to those who've been in long term relationships with one set of state arrangements in place, only now to be faced with a completely different set. For example, historically parents in same-sex couples were counted as single parents for the purposes of government payments; now, they face being hounded by the state in an effort to reduce their payments to reflect the financial status of someone in a partnership.

As it historically has, it seems to me that the only equitable way for the state to deal with people's relationships is to stay out of them. The state should not be in the business of trying to surveille people's personal arrangements, but rather should be giving benefits on the basis of people's individual circumstances, not on the basis of presumed economic bases related to sexual activity or cohabitation.