Same Sex Marriage – What Effect Will The Law Have if Passed?


I recently wrote in my blog titled “Same Sex marriage – What Now?” that it is now up to the Australian parliament to go about changing a single section in the Marriage Act – Section 5 which provides the definition of marriage “means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”. It is those words – ‘man and a woman’ – that will change, and it is proposed that those words be deleted and changed to ‘2 people’.

The effect of that is that 2 people will be able to marry which will include opposite sex and same sex couples. That is it.

Nothing about children will change. Nothing about superannuation will change. Nothing about child support will change. The reason why nothing else will change is because the definition of ‘spouse’ and ‘married’ will include both opposite sex and same sex couples. Currently those terms only include opposite sex couples.

And in fact in 2008/2009 there were a lot of reforms that were made by the Federal Government which bought into line opposite sex and same sex de facto relationships for things such as superannuation, child support, property settlements when relationships broke down.

What those reforms did not do is to give same sex couples true equality with couples of the opposite sex. The reforms did not go so far to legislate for same sex marriage – it fell short. It gave same sex (and opposite sex) couples the opportunity to have ‘registered relationships’ where their relationships could be registered with a state registry office. That is open to everyone – opposite and same sex couples. This is under a totally separate piece of legislation which is specific to each state; it is not Federally acknowledged as a Marriage is.

What most don’t realise is that when you are married; when you have that piece of paper, the contract/certificate provided by a Government Department, which states that you are married – you don’t have to prove anything. It is immediately accepted that you are married and together.

When you don’t have that marriage certificate you have to prove your relationship. You must prove that you are who you say you are. It is not enough to say ‘I’m her/his partner’ – there are many other hoops that must be jumped through simply to prove your relationship. In my opinion it is demeaning and unnecessary.

Opposite sex couples have the choice of whether they get married. Same sex couples do not. Opposite sex couples have the choice to be able to make things easier for themselves legally regarding recognition of their relationship. Same sex couples do not.

The change that same sex marriage will bring is that they will have the option to get that certificate so that they can show it and then that is that. There is nothing else to prove.

Currently there is no Federal legislation that provides the same rights to same sex couples as it would to opposite sex couples – i.e. there is no Marriage Act equivalent for same sex couples. And that is a form of discrimination noting that my little legal dictionary here defines discrimination as “treating differently those who are alike in a relevant sense”.

So, in my opinion, the effects that same sex marriage laws will have is that it will stop the current discrimination and it will bring in line the choices and acknowledgements for everyone no matter whether they are opposite or same sex relationships; the choice to marry and the acknowledgement that comes with marriage.