Marriage Equality: The Case For Reform
While there are many disparateissues to canvass in the case for marriage equality, we particularly encourageindividuals to consider making the following points in their submission.
Marriage is a civil institution, governed by secular laws, of which allpeople are entitled equitable access.
- Marriage is not an immutable religious institution. The GLRL recognises that marriage takes many forms in different cultures and has various religious histories attached to it. However, marriages performed by the state are civil, not religious, in nature. Federal legislation should reflect the separation of Church and State and not seek to privilege particular religious interests over treating all its citizens equally. Civil marriage equality should be made available to all couples regardless of sex.
- Marriage equality is an issue of human rights. Marriage reforms are essential to uphold the human rights of sexual and gender minorities. Australia has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that expressly provides for equality before the law and right to non-discrimination. In recent history, marriage reforms, through the lens of non-discrimination, have secured the legitimacy of interracial unions and furthered the agency of women in marital relationships. In the context of evolving norms then, the Marriage Act 1961 should be amended to define marriage as the ‘union of two people’ irrespective of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Australia is falling behind comparable jurisdictions and should recognise foreign marriages. Same-sex couples can legally be married in many foreign nations: Canada, the Netherlands, Argentina and South Africa permit equal marriage. Despite not recognising these marriages in Australia, the Federal Government now issues eligible same-sex couples Certificates of No Impediment to marry in these jurisdictions. Couples that are legally married in overseas jurisdictions, should have their marriages recognised in Australia.
- Marriage equality has broad community support. Consistent polling indicates that over 60 percent of Australians support marriage equality.
- Civil unions are not substitutes to full marriage equality. The GLRL recognises that relationship recognition can take multiple forms, and we support a range of options being available for same-sex couples. However, permitting civil unions or relationship register schemes, while denying same-sex couples access to marriage, produces a tiered relationship structure that privileges heterosexual relationships while undermining same-sex relationship recognition.