The NSW Parliamentary Committee tasked with exploring the viability of state-based marriage equality is due to report later today, with anticipation growing that the Committee will suggest such a law would not contravene federal legislation and that same-sex marriage in NSW is possible.
After Premier Barry O’Farrell announced the inquiry in December last year, the Social Issues Committee received approximately 10,000 submissions and over 1,200 pro forma letters – the largest number of submissions ever received. Though not all submissions have been made public, it is believed at least 55 per cent or more of all submissions were in favour of NSW introducing state-based marriage equality laws.
The City of Sydney, ACON, PFLAG, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights and others all sent in submissions in favour of equal marriage laws.
Nationals MLC Trevor Khan, who is also a member of NSW parliament’s cross-party working group for marriage equality, told the Star Observer that growing support for same-sex marriage in Australia and recent moves in New Zealand and the UK meant the issue was only gathering momentum.
“I think, in respect of the law, the Committee will conclude that the State has the power to make a law with respect to same sex marriage. The majority of the academics were clear on this point,” he said.
“What is less clear is whether the Committee will decide it is ‘appropriate’ for the State Parliament to enact a law, or whether it should be left to the Federal Parliament.”
The Australian Psychological Society, which represents over 20,000 psychologists across the country, said in its submission that there was no psychological evidence that justified legal discrimination against same-sex partners and their families.
“Recognising marriage equality is about fairness, social inclusion, and individual and community well-being,” the submission reads.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties said marriage laws as they currently stood excluded a number of people from enjoying the potential benefits of marriage.
“It is unreasonable and unjust to provide these benefits to heterosexual couples while denying them to same sex couples,” its submission states. “There is no good reason for doing so.”
However, a number of organisations have seemingly sided with the views of Christian Democrat leader Fred Nile in alleging that allowing same-sex partners to marry would lead to incest and polygamy.
“It is vital that we note that homosexuality is not a natural or innate activity. There is no evidence that homosexuality is genetic or biological,” conservative Christian ethics group Salt Shakers notes in its submission.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, meanwhile, argued that allowing for marriage equality would ruin the quality of life of children.
“The removal of the essential and complementary elements of male and female from marriage would constitute a tragic denial of our own humanity and a ruthless rejection of children as the primary beneficiaries of marriage,” the Archdiocese noted.
Those views though were roundly rejected by Paddington Uniting Church, with the longtime LGBTI-supportive church declaring such statements as “illogical and lacking in evidence”.
“We hope the Committee is clear that not all religious organisations and people in Australia oppose marriage equality,” Paddington Uniting Church stated.
INFO: Submissions to the inquiry into Same sex marriage law in NSW can be accessed here.