• Text smaller
  • Text bigger

Apparently, the United Kingdom will never have a “Princess George.” Or a “Queen William.” Or male duchesses, countesses or ladies.

That’s because lawmakers have adopted sweeping changes to the nation’s laws – some dating back nearly 800 years – in response to a pending move to open marriage to same-sex couples.

“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,” said Colin Hart, campaign director for the Coalition for Marriage and an executive for the Christian Institute.

“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,” he continued. “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.”

According to a report by John Bingham, the social affairs editor for the Telegraph of London, that’s exactly what has to happen.

“Men are banned from becoming Queen or Princess of Wales as part of an unprecedented effort to rewrite more than 700 years of law to prevent unintended consequences of gay marriage,” he reported. “Even a 14th Century act declaring it high treason to have an affair with the monarch’s husband or wife is included in the sweeping redrafting exercise.”

Hart said the changes cover laws affecting inheritance, taxation, society security and children that date back nearly eight centuries. Terms such as “husband” and “wife” have to be replaced in myriad laws.

“And if Dukes, Earls and other male Peers marry other men, their ‘husbands’ could not be made Duchesses, Countesses or Ladies.”

More than 100 pieces of the legal lexicon are being changed, including the Second Statute of Westminster from 1285, he reported.

“A spokeswoman from the government confirmed that it would still be considered high treason to sleep with a king’s wife, but not his ‘husband’ if they were in a same-sex marriage,” Hart reported.

“The route the government has chosen seems to be to admit that the equalness of same-sex marriage has its limits,” Julian Lipson of the Withers LLP family law practice told the Telegraph.

“They presumably don’t want to end up with the situation of, for example, there being two duchesses or a man with the title of duchess,” he said.

The Telegraph said terms such as “widow” also will be deleted and changed on a range of subjects including seamen’s pensions and London cab licenses.

The government earlier determined that men in a same-sex marriages can be legally called “wives” and women called “husbands” under the bill.

The bill states: “The term ‘husband [here] will include a woman who is married to another woman (but not a man married to another man) unless specific alternative provision is made.”

  • Text smaller
  • Text bigger
Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.