Marriage Equality

PAGE RETAINED FOR HISTORICAL INTEREST. NOT AN ISSUE AFTER 9/12/2017 when marriage equality became law and the legal requirement changed so that I had to say "Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of TWO PEOPLE, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life"

In most of the legal wedding ceremonies I perform, the couple asks me to make a statement about their personal belief in marriage equality to counter the statement about marriage being between a man and a woman which the Marriage Act requires me to include in the ceremony before the couple makes their vows. This is something have been offering couples from the very first marriage ceremony I performed.  As an ally it is extremely important to me to be able to do this. As an ally it is extremely important to me to be able to do this, and to support and advocate for marriage equality in numerous other ways.

The history of marriage laws in Australia. It is very interesting that, at the time the1961 Marriage Act (the one that transferred marriage from individual state jurisdiction to the Commonwealth) was promulgated Senator John Gorton said: "I am inclined to think that the reason why marriage has not been defined previously in legislation of this kind is because it is rather difficult to do so. Marriage, of course, can mean a number of things. For instance, it can mean a religious ceremony; it can mean a civil ceremony; and it can mean a form of living together. There are several meanings covered by the word 'marriage', which are quite different one from the other" (Senate Hansard 18 April 1961, p. 544).

He then went on to say: "I want to make it clear that the fact of the celebrant saying those words, which clause 46 requires him to say, does not have the force of law to define a marriage in the sense in which the insertion of a definition ... would have (Senate Hansard 18 April 1961, p. 544.)

As we know, the Marriage Amendment Act 2004 inserted the definition into Subsection 5(1) and in doing so, as Rodney Croome argues in his article in Overland (well worth reading), added yet another chapter to the shameful history of governments in this country manipulating who ordinary people marry in order to engineer broader visions of what Australian society should be. This history goes back to the earliest times. The following quote from that article is one I'm going to be suggesting be included in statements of personal belief in future:

"Just as freedom to marry frees gays and lesbians to be fully human, so it also frees marriage to be ‘fully marriage’."

NB, not all of the links below are still live.