Volume 93, Issue 28

Wednesday, October 20, 1999


Dalhousie student union bans preacher

Stadium levy concerns students

McGill study reveals kids get lost on information highway

Extending rights may increase confusion


Buzz Mecca

Caught on Campus

Extending rights may increase confusion

By Nina Chiarelli and John Intini
Gazette Staff

Staying on good terms with your roommate may be beneficial to your long-term economic health.

Justice Minister Anne McLellan, along with the Law Commission of Canada are meeting next week at a conference to discuss extending the legal rights of economically dependent couples.

The decision to discuss the issue comes on the heels of a Supreme Court decision reached earlier this year extending benefits to same-sex couples.

"Same gender relationships are not the same as roommate relationships," said Debbie Lee, chair of London's Pride Committee and Safe City Task Force co-ordinator. "They're taking our rights and lumping them into a group we don't belong to," she said.

Lee explained when gays and lesbians lobbied for equality, it was not for special treatment as far as benefits and support, but because they consider themselves couples in the same terms as heterosexual married couples. "When I get sick, it's my same-sex partner who takes care of me and our kids," she said, adding same-sex relationships entail the same feelings and responsibilities as heterosexual relationships.

"Couplehood is definitely different than roommates or friends and I think this would diminish [our inclusion]," Lee said.

Roderic Beajot, professor of sociology at Western said he thought the notion of having to sign up would at least provide a check on those trying to cheat the system.

However, Beajot said changing the system from one based on marital status to a more economically based system further complicates the issue. "Differences emerge in each separate household," Beajout said. John Palmer, Western professor of economics, said there is no need for separate legislation since it can already be dealt with through contract law. Palmer added it should be up to the individuals living together to draft their own separate contracts.

He said this legislation could create different incentives. "People will have incentives to stay with people longer to generate benefits that they would otherwise not be able to generate."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999