Only National Change Will Deliver Equality

Only National Change Will Deliver Equality

barryAfter expressing my personal support for marriage equality in the aftermath of the historic vote in the New Zealand Parliament, I was heartened by the positive response received from both the gay and lesbian, and wider, communities.

Yes there were critics, but most people shared my view that government shouldn’t deny to one section of the community the formal recognition given to others who cohabit in loving and committed relationships.

But as the months have passed, and the debate around marriage equality progressed, it’s become clear that some people have forgotten (or chosen to ignore) other parts of my statement.

In April I argued marriage equality should be pursued through the Federal Parliament, which administers the Marriage Act 1961, and that given the range of views across the community on the issue Federal MPs should be allowed a conscience vote.

At the risk of disappointing some who welcomed my commitment to marriage equality, I want to explain why I believe only change enacted by the Federal Parliament can deliver true equality in our marriage laws.

My marriage to Rosemary, which took place in Taree, is recognised across all Australian States and Territories. But a same sex marriage under a State or Territory law would not receive the same recognition nationally unless amendments were made to the Marriage Act.

This issue was highlighted in chapter 7 of this year’s NSW Parliamentary inquiry into same sex marriage laws.

While most of the focus of the inquiry’s report has been on its finding that NSW could legislate on marriage (albeit subject to High Court challenge), the all party committee also agreed that “equal rights for all Australians may best be achieved under Commonwealth legislation.”

Besides recognition, the other reason why change must occur nationally is to deal with marriage breakdown.

No one gets married believing their union won’t last. But some don’t.

When marriages do breakdown issues can arise around financial obligations, property settlement and the custody of children. These matters are currently dealt with through the Family Law Act 1975. But couples married under Territory or State same sex marriage laws would have inferior rights unless the Federal Parliament amended that Act to encompass these unions.

Before the Menzies Federal Liberal Government enacted uniform national marriage laws in 1961, different rules applied in different Australian States and Territories.

For instance, up to that time the marriageable age in some States was 14 years for men and 12 for women, while in South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia men had to be 18 and women 16 years to marry.

I don’t want to see a return to the patchwork quilt of marriage laws that existed in the 1950s and earlier. I want a law that applies equally regardless of sexual orientation.

To be truly equal, same sex marriages should enjoy the same legal status and recognition as other marriages; only a change to the Federal Marriage Act will deliver that equality.

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12 responses to “Only National Change Will Deliver Equality”

  1. You need to know how much walking, jogging, or running you need to do to lose a pound. The lower energy output is primarily due to the fact that women have a smaller body mass than men.

  2. What a spineless, politically opportunistic response from Barry O’Farrell.

    Lets be clear here, Barry is trying to play both sides. He gets to say he is on the GLBT’s side but doesn’t have to piss off those on the other side by actually voting for it knowing full well that Abbott will also not allow it and he (O’Farrell) will never have to wear the flack for voting of what he claims he believes is right and proper.

    … H Y P O C R I T E …
    … O P P O R T U N I S T …
    … C O W A R D …

    Of course a National response is best but failing that a State response is better than no response at all which equals a vote for continuing discrimination.

  3. While I do agree with the NSW Premier, I would like to know what happened to them being willing to go it alone. Did the Abbott Government run roughshod over him with threats of his position as Premier.

    It’s an interesting turn around since Abbott was elected. As Mr O’Farrell is a genuine supporter of the LGBT community, I doubt there was political manipulation of the electorate of NSW. Only suspicious of political interference from Canberra.

  4. THis man shows by this statement that he just does not get it.
    Try walking a mile in our shoes Mr O’Farrell, then you will understand. You are not given 2nd class citizen rights by legislation – we are!!!

    Any legal recognition of marriage, is 100 times better than noe – which you are advocating.

    May I remind you, it is because of your Liberal mates (and the ALP who voted no), that Australia does not have marriage equality as the federal level.

    It was good enough for the states to legislate marriage pre-1961. It’s bloody-well good enough for us 2nd class citizens (who you clearly do not understand or empathise with), to have state based marriages – until your mates in federal parliament do the right thing and pass national law.

    Very very disappointing Mr O’Farrell.
    With you refusing to take a stand for improving the rights of gays, it only makes it easier for Mr Abbott to continue to do the same.
    Disgusted in your ignorance of the issues.

  5. O’Farrell casting for the role of Pontious Pilate in latest revival of Jesus Christ Superstar?

  6. So why don’t you put a bomb under your federal colleagues, Barry, and stop pussyfooting around. Otherwise it is just buckpassing.

  7. thats it barry- handball the issue onto someone else, someone that you know won’t legislate for it. That way when it doesn’t come into law you can blame someone else.
    Good idea!!
    Oh, and original as well!!!! :-(

  8. It’s nuts to argue that voting *against* same-sex marriage is somehow support for equality. What a jerk.

  9. Doesn’t Mr Farrell realise that ages of consent are already a “patchwork quilt” across Australia from state to state? Same goes for driving rules and education policy. Yet the ACT recently managed to pass equality legislation in possession of the identical facts to which he is privy. For NSW and the ACT to enact marriage equality is to defy the Federal ban. In the USA, 14 states have marriage equality, with comparable outcomes referred to by Mr Farrell. What that reveals a groundswell of support, which will ultimately facilitate Federal enactment of true marriage equality in both countries.

  10. What a gutless wonder. The records for marriages are still the responsibility of the states. Why can’t NSW legislate for marriage equality and make it untenable for the federal government not to change the federal laws?