Editorial Roundup for Thursday — December 08, 2005

• On government bribes and the Civil Partnership Act

On government bribes and the Civil Partnership Act

The Lima (Ohio) News, Dec. 5, 2005

To paraphrase Lord Acton, big government corrupts, and absolute big government corrupts absolutely. In the case of former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., who pleaded guilty last week to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from defense companies, the corruption included, according to the list in another newspaper, “Persian carpets, silver candelabras, a Rolls-Royce, antique furniture, travel and hotel expenses, use of a yacht and a lavish graduation party for his daughter.”

Bribery long has been illegal, and a host of campaign “reforms,” from the post-Watergate era to the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002, haven’t given America pure elections.

The real problem isn’t the lack of more such “reforms,” but the reason why Cunningham was offered his bribe: The federal government’s budget now is an incredible $2.6 trillion, and its regulatory reach is immense.

Daily Telegraph, London, Dec. 2, 2005

There is one shining exception to the best-laid plans ganging agley in spades. It is the Government’s Civil Partnerships Act.

Thousands of same-sex couples will be trooping into their town halls to give notice of their intention to form a legally binding union – the equivalent of the bans being read. After a 15-day waiting period the registrar will be entitled to pronounce them well and truly hitched.

Startling progress for a way of life which was illegal well within living memory and which has just been condemned once again by Pope Benedict as “intrinsically disordered.” Even those who in some part of their minds still share that view are reluctant to be thought homophobic (and the Pope, too, has subtly softened his line). There is now a public presumption in favor of kindness.

The new law is an interesting mixture of hard-headedness and sentiment. It makes sense to form a civil partnership in order to secure the same pension rights and exemption from inheritance tax that are the last remaining financial advantages of marriage.

But the ceremony is also a public declaration of loyalty and affection.

So part of the idea was to lure young gays out of the clubs and bars and encourage them to settle down in connubial respectability.

All the research shows that being married, with all its ups and downs, is by far the most effective way of making young men law-abiding and giving them a sense of purpose and self-worth.

The politicians will admit this if pressed, but they still shy away from actually doing anything. Too simplistic, they mutter.

Even David Davis, supposedly the more traditional of the two Tory leadership candidates, won’t touch it. Like Labour and the Lib Dems, he argues that, in today’s diverse society, it is unfair to privilege one form of relationship over another.

But that is just what the Civil Partnerships Act is doing. Couples cannot get spliced and enjoy the tax advantages under its provisions if they are not of the same sex or if they are related by blood.


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