A common claim made by the pro-homosexual marriage camp is that we need to change the law on marriage because they are being discriminated against in so many areas. They claim their rights are being violated every single day, and until they get homosexual marriage, they will just be living as second-class citizens.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There are no legal disadvantages to homosexuals even though they cannot marry. This is a long-standing smokescreen brought up by the other side. Homosexuals as individuals enjoy all the same rights heterosexuals do.
And Australian state and federal governments are increasingly granting special rights to homosexual couples. Homosexual relationships are already officially recognized in law in Australia. Consider this from one federal government website:
Recognition of same-sex relationships
Same-sex de facto couples and their families have the same entitlements as opposite-sex de facto couples and their families.
The Government’s same-sex law reform package passed through Parliament in November 2008.
The reform removed discrimination against same-sex de facto couples and their families in areas such as taxation, superannuation, social security and family assistance, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Safety Net and the Medicare Safety Net, aged care, veterans’ entitlements, immigration, citizenship and child support and family law.
In 2008 for example, 84 pieces of Commonwealth legislation were changed so that homosexual couples could be treated identically to heterosexual married couples. So except for the title ‘marriage’, homosexual couples now have basically every single right that heterosexual married couples have. There is no inequality here at all.
Even the Labor Party has acknowledged this. Back in May of 2015, Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Opposition Leader said this in an interview with Leigh Sales on the ABC’s 7:30 Report: “Well, we changed 85 laws at the time, Leigh. We removed every piece of legal discrimination against gay men, lesbians and same-sex couples on the statute books. This is a piece…”
Indeed, these changes were made in various pieces of legislation: the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – General Law Reform) Bill 2008; the Same-Sex Relationship (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – Superannuation) Bill 2008; and the Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Bill 2008.
Thus homosexual couples now have full legal protections. The supposed disadvantages that remain are either inconsequential or easily overcome. For example, homosexual activist Mr Croome had a hard time coming up with any real cases of discrimination or the denial of basic human rights for homosexuals.
In a debate book I co-authored with him on homosexual marriage in 2010 he quoted one poor lesbian who complained that she had to Google to discover what her rights were in various states! So we must overturn the millennia-old institution of marriage simply to make Internet searches less demanding for a few homosexuals? Really?
The truth is, any remaining minor issues can be dealt with at a local level, and do not require the destruction of the institutions of marriage and family to achieve this. As to any supposed legal shortcomings, one US family expert offers some much-needed clarity here:
Like other citizens, homosexuals can draft any type of will that they want and leave their property to anyone they want. Family members do retain a higher standing in challenges to wills, but that is the case whenever a will is contested by anyone. The same goes for powers of attorney. A homosexual can designate his lover or anyone else as the executer of his estate or as guardians of his health in the event of an untimely, debilitating illness.
As far as hospital visitation, that is not a federal issue, nor should it be. Families have been given preference in visitation because family ties transcend other types of relationships – as well they should. Homosexuals are free to lobby individual hospitals as well as local authorities to change their rules regarding visitation. But they do not need to overturn the institution of marriage to do so.
The situation is even less problematic here in Australia. But if a particular hospital still restricts visitation rights to certain people for example, then those who feel aggrieved can take it up with that hospital and see if some sort of solution can be worked out. They do not need to redefine marriage out of existence.
Talk about using a sledgehammer when a feather would do. So all this is really just a lot of hot air. There is no inequality here. A few years after the federal law changes were made in Australia a group of experts came out and spoke to this issue:
The Federal Parliament amended 84 pieces of legislation in 2008 to place homosexual rights and entitlements on the same basis as others. The Marriage Equality website itself admits that after these amendments the Marriage Act is the only legislation requiring change – this is not an issue of substantive discrimination.
Not only so, but homosexual couples in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT are able to register their same-sex partnerships on a relationships register that provides public recognition and affirmation of their relationships.
The push for same-sex marriage is therefore largely ideological, because there is clearly no intention in any jurisdiction that they be subjected to any substantial discrimination on entitlement.
No one is done a real injustice when we positively honour and uphold marriage as currently understood. We currently honour those men and women who are united in lifelong, complementary, faithful and procreative relationships by calling them “married.”
In a liberal democracy, others can form other types of relationships; but ‘marriage’ is a term reserved for a particular kind of relationship that brings with it obligations to others beyond the two parties. Marriage is shared obligation for children.
Since that time all Australian states have officially recognised homosexual relationships in one form or another:
-Tasmania enacted significant relationship status in 2004.
-Victoria enacted domestic relationship status in 2008.
-NSW enacted registered relationship status in 2010.
-Queensland enacted civil partnership status in 2012.
-ACT enacted civil union status in 2012.
-South Australia enacted registered relationship status in 2017.
In the NT we have this situation:
De facto recognition was made possible following the Law Reform (Gender, Sexuality and De Facto Relationships) Act 2003 amending the territory’s De Facto Relationships Act to define de facto relationships as “2 persons…not married but have a marriage-like relationship”. This definition for the first time in the Territory resulted in LGBT people having a mechanism in the territory courts to resolve property disputes with their ex-partners.”
And in WA we have this:
Western Australia is one of two jurisdictions in Australia (the other being the Northern Territory) not to offer relationship registries and official domestic partnership schemes to same-sex couples. Instead, state law provides same-sex couples with de facto unions, which have been recognised under Western Australian family law since 2002. In order for a same-sex couple to be officially recognised as a de facto union, or for de facto same-sex couples to legally remedy divorce proceedings, the Family Court of Western Australia is charged with permitting that recognition or divorce. These state laws recognise same-sex couples rights to next of kin recognition, partner’s state superannuation and compensation in the event of partner’s death, amidst a whole host of other things. Same-sex couples in Western Australia and their relationships are also covered by federal law, ensuring that same-sex de facto partners are provided with same entitlements as married partners.
So we really need to put to rest these ludicrous and patently false claims of inequality, discrimination and the like. Everywhere in Australia homosexuals have full equal rights as anyone else, and homosexual couples have basically the same rights as any other couples.
And marriage rights continue to apply equally to everyone. As long as two people are of the opposite gender, of the proper age, and not close blood relatives, if they want to marry, they can. Everyone is treated completely equally in this. Those who want to marry must play by the same rules that everyone else must abide by. It is that simple.