Same-sex couples will now have full access to the federal Family Court after the Rudd Government’s first equality bill passed the Senate on Monday.
Co-mothers and co-fathers can be considered for child support and visitation rights under the new system if allowed under state or territory law.
Family First senator Steve Fielding was the lone figure to stand against the bill’s final passage, and claimed there would be chaos in the court now de facto couples would have access to resolve financial aspects of a relationship breakup.
The Government are trashing the special status of marriage for other types of relationships, Fielding told the almost-empty Senate chamber.
He also claimed more couples would choose to have children outside of wedlock, now there was no practical advantage to the institution.
Children do better with stability. Marriage legislation should be child-focused not adult-focused, he said.
Liberal spokesman George Brandis stood to contradict Fielding and defend the reforms. The wording of the new act protected the special status of marriage but didn’t discriminate, he responded.
Gay and lesbian activists were elated the first of the equality reforms will now be sent for the Governor-General’s assent.
We are now on target to achieve our goal of 58’08, as this law is the linchpin for the remaining same-sex reforms, Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Emily Gray said.
Australian Coalition for Equality spokes Corey Irlam added: The recognition of same-sex parents was arguably the most controversial aspect of those reforms needed to provide equity in federal law, and the fact it has been supported by the Senate gives us hope further reform in areas like superannuation will pass with overwhelming support.
The passage of this legislation now brings federal laws into line with most state or territory parenting laws, and sends a message to states still dragging their feet on equal parenting laws to get a move on.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland told Sydney Star Observer he was particularly thankful for independent senator Nick Xenophon’s support during the earlier debates.
Two remaining equality bills are waiting Senate approval sometime in two remaining weeks of Parliament.
Meanwhile, Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull has stood up to the Australian Christian Lobby over its opposition to same-sex equality. He reportedly asked the gathering in Canberra over the weekend if they really thought gay men would marry a woman if denied de facto status with another man.