Here is our current policy:
The gist is that we take the term “Marriage” 100% out of law and replace it with the word “Civil Unions” (which is legally the exact same thing but available to any couple).
As much as I 100% agree with most of Pirate Policy policies I think that on this one we missed the mark (which really bugs me) and I fear that we could end up on the wrong side of history on this one.
I agree that ideally (like in a utopian world) that the State should not be involved in the Marriage business. However, given that the the State is already in the Marriage business (since at least 1961) and a big deal has been made of it, it would be an injustice for the Government to pull out without offering same-sex/intersex couples the same option to also get “Married”.
The current PPAU policy addresses this from the perspective that technically (in legislation) everyone has the same legal rights as Marriage but under the “Civil Union” name (which would be equal going forward, as all couples including hetrosexual now become Civil Unions).
However this policy as simple as it might seem has one major flaw: Giving it a different name other than “Marriage” is a huge insult to Same-sex/Intersex couples who want to get MARRIED. This is a big deal and not in line with our principals of non-discrimination.
By giving it another name you denying people the right to a “Marriage” in name (and the baggage that that specific term means). A “Marriage” in it’s current name is important for a number of reasons:
- Everyone (before a currently proposed Civil Unions come in) gets a “Marriage” but same-sex/intersex couples miss out on Marriage completely. It does not address past wrongs.
- Same-sex/Intersex couples would feel like they get a second-rate “Civil Union” instead of a full blown “Marriage” that they deserve.
- A “Civil Union” and a “Marriage” is not really the same because the terms have different connotations - they mean different things - even if the actual law behind the two is the same, many Australians don’t look beyond the name of it.
- Having CIvil Unions does not really cause the state to exit the Marriage business completely. This Civil Unions business is just as bad because the state really should have no place to dictate the terms of our personal relationships at all.
- Calling Marriage by another name would only be to appease anti-Same Sex marriage supporters, it’s like giving in to discrimination.
- The institution of Marriage (from an acknowledgement by the state perspective that it’s a “Marriage”) is very important to a lot of people.
- Now I don’t necessarily agree with this because I don’t want the government up in my business, but some people actually LOVE the government itself (not necessarily the party in charge). They fill in their census papers with glee. Following government orders/laws feels like a national service to Australia (like Australia = Australian Government) and in return they feel special when the Government acknowledges them in a letter, or a census or their Marriage. It’s like saying “On behalf of Australia, congratulations on your marriage we are so proud of you here is your certificate”. I don’t care for this myself but for some people having this recognition from their Government is very important.
- The institution of marriage is actually quite antiquated for many modern couples, including Hetrosexual couples, who increasingly are having families without getting married even though they would be eligible to do so. They just don’t believe in it.
Comprehensively review all other legislation to remove references to the Marriage Act. Laws should only take into consideration De-facto relationships.
- For example, Centrelink and the Family Courts don’t even take marriage into consideration on it’s own, only if they are in a relationship, a de-facto relationship already carries the same weight as marriage and it’s not necessary to formalise the relationship in the eyes of the law.
- The law needs to catch up that there is no real-world difference between Marriage and De-facto. “Marriage” traditionally has the expectation of monogamy and aside from the obvious point that the government should have no business in who we sleep with, the traditional expectation doesn’t even hold any weight anymore as it’s common place these days for Married couples to be non-monogamous and for non-Married couples to be completely monogamous. There really is no point in legally making special treatment for Married couples over De-facto ones.
Marriage Act should be maintained in it’s current name of “Marriage”
Marriage Act should be opened up to Same-sex couples and people who are Intersex (obviously)
Marriage Act should not compel any celebrant to perform any Wedding they don’t want to (which I believe already is the case)
Religious Institutions are completely free to completely ignore the Marriage Act, like it is totally meaningless to them.
If the couple wish to have something inscribed on their Marriage Certificate (i.e. “Under the rites of Christianity”) this legally has no meaning under law except for novelty purposes and who can put it on there.
- For example, there could be a list of “approved clauses”, which religious institutions can nominate and providing that all conflicts are resolved on naming rights, then can also control who gets to use their clause or not.
- Such areas of control include which couples can use it (even if discriminatory). Maybe the couple seeking it isn’t even part of that religion or aren’t adherent. Maybe they don’t want individual priests using their name against their own policy. Maybe they just want to reserve their name and not let anyone use it because they reject the use of the Marriage Act.
Marketing Exercise to make clear that nobody is obligated to have a Legal Marriage under the Marriage Act and it does not prevent them from having a religious marriage under the terms of their religion without being registered with the state (as already is the case)
- Religions which don’t believe in SSM should be ecstatic that the government is not regulating what they can do. Particularly with religion on decline the last thing they would want is for regulations and other beliefs to be pushed onto them by anti-religion folks.
A separate “Civil Unions” Act which primarily acts as a bridge for in case legal recognition of marriage is required by another country. The requirements between the two are almost a complete copy of each other. This would be useful for a couple who may be religiously married or just de-facto but not legally married, but might need some kind of recognition for some purpose in another country, or still crave some kind of recognition of their marriage from the state but don’t believe in the government “marriage” (i.e. because it doesn’t match their definition of marriage, or just don’t want to get “Married” yet even though they are already de-facto), or maybe they want to be both Married and Civil Unioned. Totally optional and opt-in to do this at all. edit: and a clear definition on “who is de-facto” can be slipped in there too (based on current Centrelink relationship test criteria)
Under this way there is absolutely no downsides for a religious institution to not to accept the “Marriage Act”. In practical terms Religious Marriage can either be De-facto or registered as Civil Unions for legal purposes - but without any conflict in naming. Same-sex & Intersex couples get full blown Marriage rights (as well as Civil Union) and absolutely no discrimination in any part of the law. They get a good feeling inside that the Government approves of their Marriage. Even not being married at all (religiously/legally) but in a committed relationship gets full treatment under the law.
edit: the new Marriage Act could be also be renamed to something like “Marriage and Equality Act” so that it
- still defines “Marriage” in law, but further buffers it from the old “Marriage Act” to make it clear that it’s a new leaf from the old policy and also makes it easier for religious folk to distance themselves from this new legislation (which is totally optional).
- There would also need to be some provisions to allow people (who might object to the new Act) to not continue their legal Marriage originally made under the Marriage Act 1961.
- Also include something in there which acknowledges LGBTI couple issues but I don’t know what exactly.