Same-sex marriage (SSM) and civil unions
In Australia: 2009 to 2011-AUG
This is a continuation from a previous essay.
2009-MAY: Statistics bureau decision:
The Statistic Bureau announced that it would start counting same-sex couples in the
national census. 1
2009-JUL: SSM discussed at Labor's national conference:
The Australian Labor Party held its annual conference in Sydney,
starting on 2009-JUL-30. Rallies in support of same-sex marriage (SSM) were held
across Australia on JUL-31. Prime Minister Rudd said that the party would not
change its opposition to SSM. He told Radio Australian:
"We are consistent with the policy that we took to the last election, ...
[The party] fully respects the integrity of same-sex relationships."
The Labor Party held a debate on same-sex marriages on AUG-01 and rejected
However, they voted to develop a civil union scheme for the country. Delegate Anthony Albanese
told the conference that this was not his "ideal position." However, the
resolution that he proposed and was passed reflected shifting public attitudes. He said:
"History is moving forward on these issues. When I first proposed equality
for same-sex couples in superannuation in 1997 that was a controversial issue.
Today that is an issue of consensus. I believe that the issue of equality for
all is something that is unstoppable. 1
He received overwhelming applause from the other
A recent poll found that about 60% of Australian
adults support same-sex marriage. 1
2009-NOV-11: Civil Unions legalized in Australian Capital Territory (ACT):
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has legalized civil partnership
ceremonies for same-sex couples. Those in the ACT had been able to
register their union since last year, but were not permitted a ceremony.
The legislature of the territory, where the nation's parliament is located,
passed the bill on Wednesday, following an amendment banning opposite-sex
couples from obtaining the civil unions. The bill was moved by the ACT's Greens
The ACT amendment was passed so as to satisfy federal requirements that
such unions not mimic marriage.
the Greens member who drafted the bill said:
"We understand that this is not same-sex marriage. This legislation is another step along
the road to full equality for same-sex couples in Australia, and we are
delighted that the assembly has passed it today."
The federal Commonwealth Parliament, which has the power to override
legislation passed in the country's two territories, has strongly opposed
same-sex marriage, and the ACT legislature has been fighting with them for
same-sex civil unions since 2006.
Vicki Dunne, a member of the ACT legislature serves as a shadow attorney-general. She predicted that the federal government
would stop the bill. She said:
"It is almost certain the Commonwealth will intervene. It still sounds like a marriage and it still feels
like a marriage and therefore it probably is a marriage."
Last year, the federal government granted new legal and financial benefits to
same-sex couples by making changes to about 100 federal laws.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland said:
"The government believes that marriage is between a man and a woman so it
won't amend the marriage act."
Australia's Senate initiated an inquiry into the Marriage Amendment
Bill hearing arguments both for and against same-sex
marriage. The Senate committee received more than 20,000 submissions from the public. They
were against same-sex marriage by a ratio of two to one.
2011-JUN: Anglican archbishop issues dire warning about SSM:
Peter Jensen, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, wrote an article in the Church newspaper Southern Cross saying that SSM would redefine:
"one of the indispensable foundations of community. ... Ensuring public honor of same-sex relationships by calling them marriages is an abuse of marriage itself. ... It imposes, through social engineering, a newly minted concept of marriage on a community that understands it in quite another way. ... This claim for a right to be married could open the way for other forms, such as polygamous marriages or perhaps even marriage between immediate family members. ... Ministers of the Gospel will find it increasingly difficult to teach Christian sexual ethics … since what they say will be contrary to what the state says."
Alex Greenwich, spokesperson for Australian Marriage Equality said that the Archbishop's predictions have not been seen in the countries that have allowed SSM. 6
2011-AUG-16: Poll finds most Christians in Australia support same-sex marriage:
A national Galaxy Research poll found that most Christians in the country believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. Results were:
- Among all adults:
- 60% support SSM. This compares to a similar poll in 2010-OCT which found 62% supported SSM -- a value that is within the margin of error. Both are a major increase from 2004 when support was only 30%. 11
- 5% of supporters have switched from "agree" to "strongly agree since 2010."
- A similar percentage switched from "strongly disagree" to "disagree."
- 72 of women and 47% of males favor SSM. This is a much greater difference between the genders than is found in the U.S. and Canada.
- Among Christians:
- 53% of adults who identify as Christians support SSM.
- 41% oppose SSM.
- 6% had no opinion or did not answer.
- Among non-Christians:
- 67% support SSM.
- 30% oppose SSM
- 3% had no opinion or did not answer.
These data are close to polling results in the U.S.
Galaxy Research stated that 1,060 persons were polled. Margin of error: ±3 percentage points.
Unitarians, The Society of Friends (Quakers), the Metropolitan Community Church, and the Rabbinic Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia have gone on records as supporting SSM.
The poll results were released just before a rally against same-sex marriage was held. It was organized by the Australian Christian Lobby and other conservative Christian groups.
Malcolm McPherson, a Christian, and spokesperson for Australian Marriage Equality said:
"Christian groups that oppose marriage equality like the Australian Christian Lobby are entitled to their view, but they do not represent the majority of Australian Christians. Clearly, most Australian Christians believe same-sex marriage is consistent with Christian values like justice, love, compassion and fidelity, [and is] not opposed to these values."
Rev. Bill Crews, a Uniting Church minister and the host of a Sydney radio program, said:
"Today in Australia we all live in a secular and non discriminatory society. Churches and other spiritual institutions exist within this society. It seems to me that in a secular and non discriminatory society gay couples should be as free to marry as any other human couple. If people wish to be married within a religious or spiritual institution’s framework then they should accept the rites and rules of that institution. However it is the state that legitimizes all marriages." 4,5
This topic continues on the next essay
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Australia votes to recognize same-sex unions" AFP, 2009-AUG-01, at: http://www.google.com/
- "Labor won't be shifting on gay marriage: Rudd," Courier Mail, 2009-JUL-29,
- Patrick B. Craine, "Australian Territory approves same-sex civil
ceremonies," LifeSiteNews.com Emailed report , 2009-NOV-11.
- "Poll finds a majority of Australian Christians support same-sex marriage," Australian Marriage Equality, 2011-AUG-16, at: http://www.australianmarriageequality.com/
- "Same-sex marriage and religion," Galaxy Research, 2011-AUG, at: http://www.australianmarriageequality.com This is a PDF file.
- "Australian bishop warns on gay marriage," UPI, 2011-JUN-10, at: http://www.upi.com/
Copyright © 2009 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally written: 2009-MAY
Latest update: 2012-SEP-27
Partly written by: B.A. Robinson