As we march towards the end of 2008, our community has a very busy and exciting few weeks ahead. Between now and 4 December, the last Parliamentary sitting day, there are three bills that need to be passed at a federal level to make 58’08 a reality. The Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Bill needs to pass through the Senate, whilst the Super Bill and the General Law Reform Bill need to pass through both houses of Parliament.

On Monday, the House of Representatives accepted the Senate amendments to the Family Law Amendment Bill, now including the recognition of lesbian and gay parents for the purposes of family law. The GLRL was successful in convincing the Rudd Government to make amendments to parenting provisions in the Family Law Act to better protect our families -” the result of an extensive lobbying effort since May.

These amendments will ensure adequate and non-discriminatory protection for parents currently not recognised by the law. For the first time in Australian history, lesbian co-mothers across Australia will be recognised as parents for family law and child support purposes. Also, intended parents following an altruistic surrogacy arrangement will be recognised as parents if states and territories legislate in this area. These parents and others, including same-sex step-parents, will also be recognised across all federal law, if the same-sex reforms are passed in their current form.

The timely passage of the Super and General Law Reform Bills is not just important for the retirees in our community whose chances of being able to pass on reversionary death benefits their long term partners get smaller by the day, but for the thousands of same-sex couples and their children who are losing out in the areas of tax, health, migration, aged care, superannuation, veteran’s entitlements, employment, and more.

As one member of our community said to us on the weekend, Either you think we’re equal, or you don’t. It’s that simple. And that is our message to the Australian Parliament. If you do think, as you have said many times, that we are equal, then put your votes where your mouths are and support these long-awaited reforms.

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