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Scot, many thanks. I agree with hardly a word of that, but it's useful to know where you're coming from.

Blue Boy: "It is about time that the state showed its support for all committed and loving relationships."

It is not possible for two people of the same sex to be in "love", in the same way that a man and a woman can be. Men and women are desigend to fit together like jigsaw pieces - and the different pieces of the same kind don't fit together.

There, I said it.

Furthermore, here's a question for all you pro-civil partnerships: if we allow gay marriage, should we also allow polygamist marriages? Logically, if we follow your believe in state recognition of alternative relationships between consenting adults, why can't the state recognise marriage, where, for example, there is one man and two women, both of whom are fully aware and consenting? I don't understand why not, given your logic.

It's pretty clear from all the above that whereas there are very few with strong objections to a transferable tax allowance between married (or civil partnership) couples where there are children, or they are otherwise carers, as soon as you extend it to all couples you open a pandora's box. Such issues as whether people without children are married or not has anything to do with the State (on the one hand) and should childless gay couples get an income tax break (on the other) are both much too divisive for this to end in anything other than tears.

Cameron may have deliberately raised the civil partners issue as a step towards everyone recognising that this proposal should be tied into families with children (and carers) only. Let's hope so. What would be useful to know would be how much it would cost if you restricted it in line with this growing consensus. One of the more significant savings I imagine would be in not paying the allowance to couples where the children have grown up and the non-working spouse (usually wife) does not return to work.

Slightly different point - if it is a true tax allowance it also helps couples where one is a higher rate taxpayer and one not. It would not only help one earner families. If that is a concern the allowance could be rstricted to the basic rate - is that discussed in IDS's report? I would argue that it should be and that would also save a fair amount of money. It would mean, for instance, that very few young couples before they have children (and who are not on benefit) would benefit as usually both would work and be paying at least basic rate tax. On the other hand, there are quite a lot of such couples where one gets on to higher rate tax and the other doesn't. They hardly seem a priority category for relief and, indeed, if you only gave the relief when they had children, in the marginal case it would an incentive for them to get on and have them, which might be no bad thing (free up the fertility clinics later if nothing else).

Rods. you are a loser.

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