An article titled “Time To Say ‘I do’ To Same Sex Weddings” was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 8 August 2011.
The article was written by Madeleine Boxall and discussed the issue of same sex marriage, strongly arguing that forbidding same sex marriage was a form of prejudice against gay and lesbian people. The article refers to the 2004 Marriage Act which denies same sex couples the right to marry.
Boxall discusses each of the arguments against same sex marriage and the reasons why in her view, these arguments are flawed. Firstly the article argued that marriage in modern day Australia is less about religion and more about the legal protection it affords.
In this regard I would add that one argument in support of same sex marriage is that gay and lesbian couples are pulled into the Family Law Act through defacto laws which essentially treat defacto couples as if they were married for the purpose of dividing their property after separation, yet they are denied the right to marry. Undoubtedly, some same sex couples feel they have the burden of family law without any of its benefits.
The article also discusses the argument against same sex marriage that same sex couples cannot conceive naturally, and makes the point that through adoption, surrogacy and fertilisation same sex couples can create families not dissimilar to heterosexual couples. I would add to this that it is true that under the current law in Australia the partner of the woman who carries a child is considered the parent of the child, including if that partner is of the same sex. So legally, same sex couples can be recognised as the parent of a child in certain circumstances.
The article also makes the point that given the rate of divorce in Australia, around 40%, simply because married couples comprise of a man and a woman, this does not mean that these marriages would be more functional than a same sex couple’s marriage would be. The points that Boxall makes such as the fact that marriage is no longer a religious event, that same families and couples as parents are already recognised, and the fact that same sex couples are already recognised under the Family Law Act does suggest that regardless of one’s personal views towards same sex marriage it is probably inevitable that at some point it will be allowed in Australia.