Alternative titles #3: What means more to me: Tony Blair’s Civil Partnership legislation or his Age Discrimination legislation?

(suggested by Chris, the cheeky mare)

If we’re to emphasise the “to me” part of the equation, then the Civil Partnership legislation has had, and will have, a much greater personal impact upon my life. This can be summed up in three decidedly unromantic words: no inheritance tax. Which sounds base and craven, but it does make a serious impact on the way we view our long-term futures.

However, although this was our primary reason for forming a civil partnership, I have been slightly suprised to discover that, over 21 years into our relationship, being civil-partnered does feel different. Not massively different, but subtly yet significantly different.

Firstly, there has been a slight re-alignment of intra-family relationships: a coming together of the two groups, and an increased level of recognition for our status as partners. I feel just that little bit more bedded down within the family structures, and that’s an agreeable, secure feeling.

Secondly, having a legally recognised status means never, ever, flinching even for a split second, no matter what the situation, in declaring our partnered status, and in referring to each other as partners. It’s the final shedding of the few remaining flakes of the underground/alternative sub-culture. From twilight to daylight, and all that.

As for the age discrimination legislation, it’s certainly true that ageism has long been rampant in the world of IT. On the other hand, we mainframe COBOL dinosaurs do tend to be of a certain age in the first place, so I can’t see myself being affected for the remainder of my time in the industry.

Would I ever have the nerve to launch a challenge under the new Act, though? Such cases must be difficult to prove, and I also worry about specious challenges from crafty chancers, playing the game for their own ends. I once witnessed a former colleague doing this in an analagous context, several years ago: playing on people’s fears of being seen to be discriminatory, and greeting his eventual victory with a suspiciously gleeful triumphalism. On the other hand, it’s irrational and intellectually dangerous to extrapolate a whole position from one incident, just because the incident happened closest to where you were.

All of this ties in neatly with the French comedy which we watched last night on DVD: Le Placard (The Closet), in which a mild-mannered accountant, when faced with redundancy, gets his job back by pretending to be gay, and hence the victim of homophobic discrimination. It wasn’t a deep film – quite the opposite, in fact – but it neatly satirised the new-found caution of those who once would have abused their power. And if that abuse of power is occasionally – very occasionally – to be exercised in the opposite direction, then maybe this is a small price to pay for redressing an altogether larger and more wounding iniquity.

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