Singles of the world unite!

Couples' rights don't help poor or elderly homos

Some couples are cute — especially when they wear matching outfits — but let’s not get carried away. The last time I checked, people still came in parties of one, barring the extremely rare case of Siamese twins.

The powers that be, however, are trying to make Siamese twins of us all, soldering our limbs together with laws which expand the definition of spouse. In the latest example, the Supreme Court Of Canada has decided that a wealthy spouse may be financially responsible for a poorer spouse well beyond the end of the relationship, and for reasons unrelated to the relationship.

Redistribution of wealth, once understood as desirable amongst all people, is now bizarrely invoked to level the playing field only between people who consort with one another, and only in groups of two. What the fuck is that all about?

This decision could have huge repercussions for homosexuals, depending on another Supreme Court ruling. Any time now, the court is expected to release its decision on homosexual spousal support in the M vs H case. If the decision is in favour of treating gay relationships the same as straight ones, gay and lesbian couples who live together may find their relationships interpreted in ways they did not intend and do not appreciate.

But these decisions are especially troubling for single people or those in unconventional relationships. And recent studies confirm that lots of gay people are single or unconventional.

Xtra’s recently released national readership survey found that 63 percent of readers nationally and 66 percent of Toronto readers are either single or in casual or longterm open relationships. As readers age, they are less likely to endure the sterile comforts of mock-marriages: 43 percent of readers under 35 are in a longterm monogamous relationship, compared to 30 percent of readers over 45. Less affluent readers are also less likely to be hitched: 29 percent of readers earning under $39,000 a year versus 60 percent of those earning more than $80,000.

According to the Xtra survey, conducted by Angus Reid last November, gay men and lesbians most likely to have financial needs — those who are older or poorer — are overwhelmingly without traditional spouses.

Similarly, a recent University Of Winnipeg study of gay seniors found that 42 percent live alone. This survey also shows that 82 percent rely on friends for emotional support, compared with 51 percent relying on a spouse, and 23 percent on a sibling.

So — perhaps the state should acknowledge friends, multiple lovers and other unconventional relationships, including extended chosen families.

If that seems too confusing, and if we’re really concerned about those in need, perhaps we should reconsider the whole idea of doling out financial rewards by association — so that getting your teeth fixed has nothing to do with who you know.


David Walberg is Publisher for Xtra.

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Relationships, Power, Love & Sex, Toronto

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