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Same-sex marriage (SSM) and civil unions in Australia

Review: 2004-2013: Public opinion
polls on SSM. Organized opposition to SSM.
ACT passes same-sex marriage law.

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This is a continuation from a previous essay.

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Throughout this web site, "SSM" refers to marriages by same-sex couples.
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.
"Natural marriage" means a marriage of one woman and one man.

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2004 to now: Public opinion polls concerning SSM in Australia:

The increase in support over the previous decade is very similar to that seen in many U.S. states over the same interval:

  • 2004: Newspoll: 38% of Australians supported SSM. 1

  • 2011-AUG: Galaxy poll: 60% of Australians support SSM. 53% of Christians support SSM; 41% oppose it. 67% of non-Christians support SSM. 2

  • 2011-DEC: Fairfax/Nielsen poll: 57% are in favor of SSM. 3

  • 2012-FEB-13: Galaxy poll: 62% favor. 3 81% of respondents aged 18 to 24 support SSM. 28% would be more willing to support SSM if churches were given the freedom to discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing to marry them; 17% were less willing to agree. 3

  • 2012-AUG: Galaxy poll: 64% favor. 3,4

  • 2013-MAY-28: Roy Morgan poll: 65% favor; 35% are opposed. 79% believe that all MPs should be free to vote their conscience. 5 3,493 persons were polled. The margin of error is ±1.7 percentage points.

The consistent conclusions from recent polls is that support for SSM is approaching two out of three voters, and that about four out of five voters favor a free vote in Parliament. Any political party that ignores these data is carving out for themselves a future long-term minority status.

A Galaxy Research poll during 2011-MAY found that 75% of Australian adults feel that marriage equality is inevitable. This includes 80% of women, 79% of people under 50 years-of-age, and 78% of parents with young children. ; 19% disagree and don't see same-sex marriage as inevitable. 6

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Statements by two religious and social conservative groups opposed to marriage equality:

  • Australia Marriage Forum (AMF) is a group concerned about the impact that marriage equality would have Australian culture:
    • AMF feels that by arguing in favor of adult rights, advocates for same-sex marriage are concealing the negative impact that equality would have on children in families led by same-sex couples. One major impact is that in such families, children would have either two men or two women as parents. They would be deprived of either a mother or father.

    • A second concern that they stated is that legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to the further normalization and acceptance of same-gender sexual behavior in society. Condemnation of such behavior as abnormal, unnatural, and immoral would be replaced by acceptance of gay, lesbian and bisexual sexual behavior as normal, natural, and morally neutral for a minority of adults with homosexual or bisexual orientations.

    • Finally, legalizing same-sex marriage might result in restrictions on the religious freedom and liberty that would impact both individuals and companies in the marriage industry. The AMF is not referring to the traditional meaning of religious liberty, which involves freedom of belief, freedom of assembly, freedom to proselytize, etc. They are referring to the emerging meaning of the term, which includes the freedom to discriminate against, denigrate, and oppress the LGBT community and other minorities. Many states in the U.S. that have legalized SSM have existing human rights legislation that penalizes businesses that refuse for any reason to serve potential customers on the basis of the latter's gender, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. In the United States, a dozen or so wedding planners, renters of halls, wedding photographers, etc. have refused to provide their services to same-sex couples, and have run afoul of such human rights laws.

AMF stresses:

"... that legislation to support same-sex marriage will have enormous consequences on our culture and we want an open and honest debate on this -– free of the intimidation that so many defenders of natural marriage have been subject to in recent years.

So, let the debate be thoughtful, civil, and 'for the public good' of this great community of ours." 6

  • MercatorNet is a project of the New Media Foundation, an Australian company. They describe themselves as "... reframing ethical and policy debates in terms of human dignity, not dollars and cents or political calculation." 7 Brian Pollard, writing on their Conjugality blog, said:

    "Most of those who want same-sex marriage legalised, and see the need to make a rational case for it, rely chiefly on two arguments, namely that there is a right to such a marriage and that they are discriminated against by the present position. [However,] no right for two members of the same sex to marry is found in any recognised document of human rights and valid human rights cannot be established by simple claim or assertion. ..."

    "Depriving a child of relationships with his or her parents is an injustice to the child, and should not be inflicted without some compelling or unavoidable reason. The child’s rights to care and relationship must be supported pro-actively, for those rights to be protected at all.

    Marriage is adult society’s institutional structure for protecting the legitimate interests of children. Without this public purpose, marriage as a distinct social institution would not be needed. Same sex couples and opposite sex couples are obviously different with respect to this essential public purpose of marriage.

    Treating different things differently is not discrimination or intolerance. That is why, in the few cases where courts have found marriage restricted to opposite sex couples to be unlawful discrimination, they have had to come up with purposes for marriage that have nothing to do with procreation or attaching children to parents. Arguments commonly frame the gay marriage debate solely in terms of the emotional needs of adults, ignoring the child's point of view.

    But if marriage is all about adults who love each other, by what rational principle should three (or more) adults who love each other not be allowed to marry? And why should not two members of the same family marry, since there will be no children?

    Instead of the marriage of a man and a woman being a bedrock social institution for the best chance of the creation of a nation of stable, mature and responsible citizens, as it has been since the earliest times of recorded history, a task that can occupy several decades for each individual, same-sex marriage would become nothing but a government registry of friendships, a pointless legal convention that frankly doesn’t deserve any government benefits or recognition at all.

    Since homosexual couples now enjoy equality with male-female couples in every way short of traditional marriage, it is appropriate that their valid entitlement stops there, because the demands of adults must end where the birthright of a child begins."8

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2013-OCT-23: ACT legalizes SSM:

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is similar to the District of Columbia in the U.S. It encompasses the federal capital area and has the capacity to pass its own laws. On OCT-23, they became the first Australian jurisdiction to legalize same-sex marriage by passing its Marriage Equality Same-sex Bill in its Legislative Assembly.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher told the Assembly:

"There is no longer any excuse, if there ever was, to discriminate against same-sex couples in our community.

They are our children, our parents, our brothers, our sisters, our leaders, our business people, our mentors and our colleagues. More than anything, they are our equals. The Marriage Equality Act puts this fundamental principle and human right into law."9

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Nick Bryant, "The shifting politics of same-sex marriage in Australia," BBC News, 2013-APR-25, at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
  2. "Same-sex marriage and religion," Galaxy research, 2011-AUG, at: www.australianmarriageequality.com This is a PDF file.
  3. "Marriage equality: the facts," The Sydney Morning Herald, 2013-APR-29, at: http://www.smh.com.au/
  4. Malanda Rout & Matthew Denholm, "Poll shows support of gay marriage at high," The Australian, 2012-AUG-07, at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/
  5. "L-NP 54.5% (down 0.5%) ..." Roy Morgan Research, 2012-MAY-27, at: http://www.roymorgan.com.au/
  6. "Marriage equality and public opinion," Australian Marriage Equality, 2011-JUN. Partial URL: www.australianmarriageequality.com/.../AMEpollfactsheet@Jun11.pdf‎. This is an accursed PDF file that does not give access to the original URL.
  7. "Our ideals," MercatorNet, at: http://www.mercatornet.com
  8. Brian Pollard, "The onward march of evil euphemisms," Conjugality blog at MercatorNet, 2013-JUL-31, at: http://www.mercatornet.com
  9. "Commonwealth to launch High Court challenge over ACT same-sex marriage laws," Australian Broadcasting Commission, 2013-OCT-23, at: http://www.abc.net.au/

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2013-OCT-23
Latest update: 2013-DEC-17
Assembled by: B.A. Robinson

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