In search of a tolerant society

PUBLISHED: 11:37 19 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:27 06 May 2010

I read with interest the correspondence from M Harrington (letters, January 12), about a variety of issues clearly close to the writer s heart. Amongst the unsubstantiated claims, assumptions about the opinions of reporter Hannah Gray and general rambling

I read with interest the correspondence from M Harrington (letters, January 12), about a variety of issues clearly close to the writer's heart. Amongst the unsubstantiated claims, assumptions about the opinions of reporter Hannah Gray and general ramblings, the statement on gay partnerships stood out as particularly ill thought though.

Harrington writes, "Please tell us why you are pleased that gays can now, have all the benefits of a married couple, but I cannot have the same rights, due to the fact that I just live with my partner". This seems to imply that marriage or civil partnership is not an option for M Harrington, since this would certainly accord full partnership rights to the relationship - and the writer surely has access to a register office. So unless M Harrington's partner is awaiting a divorce from a previous relationship or in some other category not eligible for partnership rights, there is no reason why the couple should not enjoy all the benefits now available to any other happy and stable couple - either gay or straight.

Of course with a new law there are conventions to be ironed out, and it seems that temporarily some gay couples are better off than some heterosexual couples in terms of benefits. However this situation is, while not yet fair on all parties, infinitely better than a situation where all gay couples regardless of commitments made to one another had absolutely no access to the same rights as a married heterosexual couple.

I suggest that if M Harrington wants to be left to smoke in peace in public places, he/she should be more tolerant of the lifestyle choices made by others that do not impinge on anyone else's freedom. If not, the writer is welcome to join those leaving by the plane load and let the rest of us enjoy a society aiming to be more healthy, more tolerant and better educated.

J HUGHES

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