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Marriage inequality

18 September 2017


Say no to marriage equality and you agree certain human beings should not have the same rights as others. In my books and this is my opinion only, it’s a slippery slope to go down.

Why, because it purposefully sets out to and makes people unequal. I am not interested in getting married but not having the choice - that has me incensed.

For those who do not want to marry, alternatives to marriage are important and, in Australia, there are, according to research by others more versed than I am in the ins and outs of the law, “strong legal protections for cohabiting de-facto couples and some of the best state civil union schemes in the world”.

However, civil unions will not and do not provide the equality found in marriage.

The day you legally marry you have immediate access to all relationship entitlements, protections and responsibilities. Before a de-facto couple is deemed to have the same legal rights of a married couple, they must live together for a certain period.

The criteria for establishing de-facto status, and the rights ascribed to de-facto partners, are different between the Australian states and between Australia and other nations.

Marriage is a widely recognised legal relationship.

Take the horror of a medical emergency and rights of kinship. I know of incidences where the partner of the sick person has been blocked from attending/visiting by their partner’s family. Married partners can quickly prove their legal rights in such situations and overcome the prejudice against same-sex relationships that can see legal rights being denied.

I also know that the hetero-normality of marriage leads staff attending, say, a birth in hospital, to assume that because a man is present at the birth he is the partner, leaving the actual partner completely disenfranchised.

De facto and civil unions are proof, I agree, but they have a reputation as separate and unequal to marriage because they must be explained repeatedly and are not universally recognised. This can mean having to ‘out’ yourself on every occasion be it a partner’s medical emergency to explaining to school staff why you have the right to give permission for your child to attend an excursion.

The United Nations defines poverty as: “a denial of choices and opportunities... it means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society... it means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living on marginal or fragile environments.”

The actions of the Federal Government will force some people to experience aspects of the UN’s definition of poverty. They deny them a choice and an opportunity and condemn them to much more of what is acknowledged in this definition.

Of course, I know marriage inequality didn’t come out of nowhere. Let’s think back to 2004 and the amendments to the federal Marriage Act (1961) made by the Howard Government. The amendments to the Act specified the following:

“Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
“Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.”

Additionally, same-sex couples who get married in countries where same-sex marriage is legally recognised cannot divorce within Australia when they come back due to the same-sex marriage ban.

The amendments to the Act were made to incorporate the common law definition of marriage into the Marriage Act 1961 and the Family Law Act and they were amendments made specifically to exclude people from holding certain rights afforded other members of society.

What about this is not discriminatory?

I don’t remember a ‘survey’ being held on the 2004 amendments, so why the need for a “survey of our feelings” now?

The article represents the views of the author and not necessarily that of the Bank.