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"That's to say, we support equality before the law."

No you don't Paul, not personally. You support banning me from getting married because of the way I was born.

Paul Goodman

What about the three people who want to get married? Are they to have equality too? And if not, why not? - Paul


Paul Goodman

The questions above are intended for Verma: for whatever reason, I can't comment on this thread in the same way that I can on others.

While I'm here, further questions. What about the man who wants to marry his daughter? Or the two children who demand that they marry? What about their "equality"?

- Paul



I don't recall any condition which results in people being unable to be attracted to, or fall in romantic love with, anyone other than close relatives.

As for children marrying, we restrict all sorts of things from children until they grow up, for obvious reasons.


The fact of the matter is Paul that there are thousands of gay couples, living together as if they were married, raising children together, that you want the law to discriminate against because they don't have the right tackle.

You don't believe in equality before the law.


Verma, you already have equality. You just have to meet the right man, just as any other girl does.

Paul Goodman

Verma -

Re children, you are saying that equality before the law is limited in a way that you approve of.

Re same sex marriage, you are saying that it is limited in a way that you *disapprove* of.

All this helps to prove that equality before the law is hedged about by conditions.

So it doesn't automatically support your case - as you suggested it did in your first post.

Rather, the question is how it is to be applied in the case of marriage.

There is debate to be had in plenty about same sex marriage - with good arguments on both sides.

I don't find the good arguments for it persuasive, for reasons I may write about in due course.

But one thing's for sure: "equality" isn't one of them - Paul

BTW, I don't recall people being unable to be attracted to, or fall in romantic love with, close relatives. None the less, they aren't allowed to marry - rightly, surely?

Victor Southern

It might just be possible to widen this beyond the discussion of gay marriage to the essential point that Paul is making.

The emphasis should be only on equality of opportunity in attainment, not on equality of outcomes which is an impossibility unless the equalised outcomes are so meagre that all are equally poorly fed, poorly housed, poorly educated.

The poverty that besets so many ghettoised housing estates is a poverty of spirit,a dimness of hope, a paucity of exemplars. The average person living in a council house on benefits is better housed. better fed and better medicated than was Henry VIII although it may seem dire to the middle-class liberal who is consumed by a guilt complex, particularly if some of their own comfort is inherited.

Whilst the exemplars are pop stars, gangster lords, Z-list celebrities and those who confess on daytime TV there is little hope for a poor young boy or girl to get out of the ghetto.

Regrettably it is not a problem capable of any quick fix. All that one can do is by changes such as in secondary schooling and tertiary education to open a few thousand more escape doors each year.


I think you're mistaken in imagining equality of outcome and opportunity to be so diametrically opposed as to be like opposite ends of a toy train. If equality of opportunity is to be regarded as meaning that society should achieve a distribution of incomes that largely reflects an underlying distribution of talent and hard work, then society could be structured in a way that reduced these inequalities further, but it could also be structured in a way that exaggerated them.

Such things are fairly impossible to measure, but my own feeling is that we are in the latter kind of society; that the inequalities created by privilege outweigh those from talent, hard work or chance. Increasing equality of opportunity would then have the consequence of also increasing equality of outcomes.

There's also the fact that equality of opportunity doesn't need to be defined as everyone being able to achieve a meteoric rise to riches. My own definition of equality of opportunity would be: there is more equality of opportunity if it is harder to predict someone's success in life at the moment of someone's birth from social factors. In particular, the correlation between income and parental income/education, place of birth, etc. This definition of equality of outcome seems fairly natural to me, and is also quite mathematically measurable. If you chose to measure correlation of income to parental income (say), that's a completely independent thing from the Gini coefficient measuring equality of outcomes. All it says is that whatever the level of inequality is, the distribution is not correlated much to social factors. It's perfectly consistent to support a reasonable degree of equality on both these measures.


Verma - equality is one thing but redefining marriage for the rest of us is another.
You selfishly want to change the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman to include single sex couples.
Why do you discriminate against marriage for polygamists, brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters and children that may or may not be in love and living together?
The equality argument is a non-argument and the 1.5% of the population that consider themselves either homosexual, lesbian or bi=sexual are all protected in their relationships under the law and in many ways have more rights than other groups.

Paul Goodman

Robert - You're on to something in the sense that Verma, when challenged, gives up on trying to deal with any points raised - and simply falls back on repeating his or her first assertion. Paul

A. Stonish

Reducing inequality is usually taken to mean raising the floor, not lowering the ceiling.

No sensible person would advocate inequality on the grounds that fewer people might be on welfare if equality of opportunity became a reality.

There is an impressive body of evidence about a person's success in life being determined by explanatory styles which can be taught. We omit to teach these habits of thought to teenagers at some cost to the taxpayer, and some distress to the less fortunate.

Mike Buchanan

It is remarkable that a Conservative-led government is even more active than its Labour predecessor in seeking gender equality in corporate boardrooms, despite clear evidence from numerous longitudinal studies that it will result in a decline in corporate performance.

Mike Buchanan


I didn't give up on any points, I went to the swimming baths :)

You misunderstood what I was saying about someone who romantically loves their close relatives. I was saying that I do not think that they are capable of only loving their close relatives, therefore you are not cutting them off from marriage all together.

Many gay people are only capable of loving someone of the same sex, by denying them marriage as part of a same sex couple you are denying them marriage forever.

Some people would say that such people can still marry someone of the opposite sex, love and attraction put to one side.

But then we are onto the various understandings of marriage in the world. For me, and probably the majority of the British, marriage is a relationship of love. Love and attraction are two necessary parts.


I wonder Paul, who do you think intersex people should legally be allowed to marry?

George P

Verma, We’ve dealt with this equality before the law thing before. terminological equality not the same as equality of actuality.

George P

On the broader point, F.A. Hayek’s understanding of Equality before the Law seems to be one which all conservatives should subscribe to. However aspects of the equality act seem to be against equality before the law allowing discrimination in only one direction.

George P

I would like to probe the current legal position:

Let’s say my firm recently employed someone to do a clerical job but we fluffed the pay negotiations and agreed to pay her far too much. Let’s say I only found out about this recently but the contract has now been signed and I am unwilling to go back on it (which, in any case, might be illegal).

However we now need to employ someone else to do a very similar job. We can fill the vacancy to a suitable standard by offering about 40% less pay than we offered to the first person.

Is this legal?

Does the gender/race/religion of the person who takes the new job change the legal status?


George P:

I'm not a lawyer, but my belief would be that doing what you say would not be illegal in itself, but you might need some kind of evidence to show that's what happened if challenged by the new employee (maybe a memo from yourself to someone noting the mistake for the previous employee, maybe the pay records for a few other employees past or present also doing a very similar job on the lower pay etc.) In other words, I believe doing exactly what you say is perfectly legal, but it isn't enough for anyone who feels they may have been discriminated against to simply take your word for it.

Mohammed Amin


There are a relatively small number of socialists who explicitly argue for equality of outcome. A much larger number of woolly thinkers claim to support equality of opportunity, but actually end up arguing for policies aiming to achieve equality of outcome because they fail to think clearly.

In my view the proper Conservative position is to support equality of opportunity along with a safety net for those who need it. Equality of outcome has nothing to do with Conservatism.

However it is wrong to go from there to taking potshots at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, or even worse attacking the Equalities Act 2010. I believe strongly that discrimination on the grounds of any of the "protected characteristics" in EA 2010 s.4 is wrong, and it is the job of EHRC to help prevent such discrimination.

Donald Burling

Attitudes to equality at their crudest can be expressed as the lawnmower approach (everyone should be cut down to size), or the green bottle appproach (you are all equal, if you fall that's your problem). Of the two, the latter seems the more pernicious.

True equality of opportunity is impossible because of differennces of abolity. Our aim should be to ensure everyone can achieve a reasonable outcome within their capabilities. This would mean helping the disadvantaged, even those with mental problems and ex-criminals, to find a satisfctory livelihood. If that costs money, those with more money than they know what to do with ought to be willing to offer support.

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