Radical Equality

Former Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman has been on the war path this week.  This time she’s taking issues with marriage and divorce and, more specifically, how MPs talk about it.

The remarks Harman doesn’t like are the ones that say that marriage is important, divorce is bad and ones deemed as “sneering” at lone mothers.  The quotes are:

All prime ministers talk about families, which isn’t surprising. After all, families are everything for a child and for an elderly person – and very important for all the years in between.  But if I ruled the world, I’d have something to say about the way that politicians had this discussion.

I’d ban them from going on about how important marriage is and how damaging divorce is.

I’d ban sneering at lone mothers too. The mean message it sends to their children is, “There’s something wrong with your family and therefore something wrong with you.”

When I was at university, my Family Law lecturer wasn’t too amused when I cited divorce as a primary reason for marriage.  The battle for recognised partnerships between same sex couples has been fought not just on the equality angle but because the Law should recognise a family unit however it is composed, and protect the rights of homosexual couples in the same way it would heterosexual couples when that unit breaks down.

A recognised family unit has long been seen as the stability required in which to raise a baby or child, and the fight has been to have the inherent commitment in that unit seen in any type of relationship.  Therefore, it makes sense that breaking down that relationship is going to have a devastating effect on all involved whether the break down be by divorce or something more fundamental, death.

Research has shown that children affected by family breakdown are far more likely to fail at school, develop an addiction and have serious mental health problems.

What bugs me about Harman’s comments is that it’s trying to emphasise that everything is fine.  Whatever we choose, it’s all fine.  The problem I see with it is that if you don’t recognise problems or issues, you can’t fix it.  Harman is burying her head in the sand and calling it a shout for equality.

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