Same sex marriage – what does it change?


Australians have voted yes to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry” and now it has been signed into law. Same sex couples will able to be married as soon as 9 January 2018!


So what effect will the new law have?

It is primarily a change to 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.

Nothing about children. Nothing about anything else. 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 us true equality with couples of the opposite sex. The reforms did not go so far to legislate for SSM – it fell short. It gave us ‘registered relationships’ where we could register our relationship 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, which states you are married – you don’t have to prove anything.

When you don’t have that marriage certificate provided by a Government Department you have to prove the relationship. You must prove that you are who you say you are. It is not enough to say ‘I’m her partner’ – there are many other hoops that must be jumped through simply to prove your relationship. 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 them legally regarding recognition of their relationship. Same sex couples do not.

The change that SSM will bring is that we have the option to get that certificate so that we can show it and then that is that. There is nothing else to prove. 

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, those are the points and differences about SSM – it will stop the current discrimination and it will provide 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.