The Federal Government has had a gauntlet thrown down before it by South Australian state MP, Ian Hunter, who has applied for no-impediment to wed documentation so that he his partner can marry.

In June, Prime Minister Julia Gillard maintained certificates of no impediment to wed (CNIs) would not be provided to same-sex couples, claiming that to do so would be in breach of the Marriage Act

However Hunter told the SA Legislative Council today, “The [Federal] government’s interpretation of the purpose of CNIs is incorrect.”

“CNIs are not designed to validate overseas marriages, whether these marriages be between heterosexuals or homosexuals. CNIs do not confer any recognition of the legality of a marriage under Australian law, nor do they promise to confer a mutual recognition of marriages carried out overseas. Countries such as the Netherlands and Spain, which allow the same-sex marriage of Australian citizens, have no expectation that those marriages will be recognised in Australia.

“I have written again to the Attorney-General explaining why the government’s policy on CNIs is incorrect. In that letter, dated 27 June 2011, I also warned the Gillard government that, if it continued to deny same-sex couples this documentation, the government runs the very real risk of appearing vindictive and petty in the eyes of same-sex couples, their families and their friends.

“I believe the government should be ashamed of this unnecessarily mean policy, which they inherited from the Howard government. Why should Australian same-sex couples be inconvenienced in this manner? Why should overseas nations such as The Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, amongst others, have to make special exemptions for same-sex Australian couples from their usual CNI requirements, acknowledging that it is impossible for these Australian citizens to obtain basic legal documentation from their own government?

“Let me declare an interest in this matter. As someone who is considering marrying overseas, I am personally affected by this bureaucratic bigotry.”

In Hunter’s letter to the Attorney-General, he also included a copy of a personal application for a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage, listing himself and his partner for processing by the Attorney-General’s Department.

“I eagerly await the processing of my application and the government’s response,” he told the SA Legislative Council.

“Regardless of the outcome of the current community debate regarding marriage equality, this is an issue that must be addressed as a matter of fairness. The Gillard government must overturn this discriminatory policy, this act of bureaucratic meanness, immediately.”

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