NSW marriage bill to preclude interstate LGBTI couples from marrying
Marriage equality advocates have called for LGBTI couples across Australia to send in submissions to the NSW parliament’s inquiry into proposed state same-sex marriage legislation as the current draft bill will preclude such couples from interstate marrying in the state.
Almost 600 submissions have already been received, with some of those attacking the LGBTI community for apparently wanting more rights than Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her de facto partner, Tim Mathieson.
The draft State Marriage Equality Bill 2013 was presented to the Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into Same sex marriage law last Thursday, to coincide with Valentine’s Day.
Advocates for the reform have described the Bill as “generally excellent legislation” however a clause included in the Bill will prevent same-sex couples in Australia who reside in other states and territories from having their marriage recognised should they travel to NSW for a ceremony.
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) national convener, Rodney Croome, said while the bill should be supported it could also do with some minor improvement.
“The NSW Bill explicitly includes intersex people which is a step forward, however it also includes a residency requirement which I am concerned about because it will stop interstate couples from marrying in NSW,” he said.
“Similar Bills before other state parliaments are open to interstate couples on the basis that all Australians should have access to marriage regardless of their sexual orientation and where they live.”
AME NSW co-ordinator, Malcolm McPherson, said he urged everyone who supported the reform to send in their personal stories explaining why marriage equality was so important to them.
“The outcome of this inquiry will be critical to getting legislation through the state parliament which is why we have produced a submission guide which can be accessed through the front page of our website,” he said.
The calls come as some of the received submissions, numbering almost 600, have been made available for public viewing.
One of the submissions, by Dr Michael Giffin from the Anglican Archdiocese of Sydney, suggests the campaign for marriage equality is nothing but a “symbolic issue driven by cultural elites and privileged minorities” who want to further their own sociological and political agendas.
“I suspect the issue of same-sex marriage is not important to the average gay and lesbian person or couple. In fact, I do not personally know of any gay or lesbian person or couple advocating for same-sex marriage. They are too clear-sighted and have better things to do,” Giffin wrote.
“Put another way, a same-sex couple already has the same rights under Australia’s application of common law as Julia Gillard and Tim Mathieson. Why does a minority of same-sex couples want more rights than the current prime minister and her partner?”
A submission by constitutional expert, Professor George Williams from the University of NSW, however suggests that state-based marriage equality laws will have a good chance at surviving any challenges against it in the High Court.
“Indeed, there is some doubt whether federal Parliament can legislate with respect to same sex marriage at all,” Williams wrote.
“A State Parliament by contrast has a clear power to legislate with respect to marriage in any form. Therefore, a State can legislate to authorise same sex marriage.”
Though the Marriage Act is a federal law, when it was introduced in 1961 marriage became a federal power held concurrently with the states under Section 51 of the constitution.
It has been suggested that states could pass their own laws on same-sex marriage due to changes by former Prime Minister John Howard to the federal Marriage Act in 2004 to specifically exclude same-sex couples.
The consultation draft of the bill is available on the website of the NSW cross party working group for marriage equality: http://nswmarriageequality.com.au
View submissions to the marriage inquiry here.
- Tags: Australian Marriage Equality, Constitution, Dr Michael Giffin, Julia Gillard, Law, Malcolm McPherson, Marriage Act, Marriage Equality, NSW, NSW Parliament, Politics, Professor George Williams, Rodney Croome, Same-Sex Marriage, Tim Mathieson