The Government has come good on its promise to move forward with providing practical equality for same-sex couples and their children.

Last week, the Attorney-General Robert McClelland introduced the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws -“ General Law Reform) Bill 2008 into the House of Representatives. The purpose of this bill is to remove discrimination in 68 pieces of legislation by recognising same-sex partners in the same way as heterosexual de facto couples.

If this bill is successful, same-sex couples and their children will be recognised for the purposes of Medicare, PBS, migration, taxation, social security, superannuation and many other areas of the law. It is hard to think of any other bill that has been as all-encompassing and wide-ranging as this. Our relationships and our families will finally be given the legal acknowledgment they deserve. It truly is a new modern age of equality.

Unfortunately, it seems likely that the Coalition will push for an amendment to this bill to include interdependent relationships such as carer relationships. Yet there has been no inquiry into the need to recognise interdependent relationships. Those in such relationships may not even want to be recognised.

Including caring relationships at this time is nothing short of a slapdash measure to make the recognition of same-sex relationships more politically palatable and shows a disregard for the needs and concerns of both communities.

This bill, like the superannuation, evidence and family law bills before it, has been sent to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for inquiry.

The Australian Christian Lobby has already expressed its opposition to aspects of the bill. The ACL has described our children as biological fictions and decried the recognition of our families as social engineering.

We encourage everyone in our community to make a submission in support of this bill and send the message that prejudice and bigotry have no place in modern Australia.

A sample submission is available under this column on the SSO website. All submissions to the Senate Committee in support of the bill must be made by 15 September and should be sent to [email protected], with your name, phone number and address for verification.

info: For more information about the inquiry, follow the following link: www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/legcon_ctte/same_sex_general_law_reform/index.htm.

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