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A recent article on Star Observer reported that several Australian MPs will be seeking opinion from their constituents regarding the issue of same-sex marriage. Members from both houses will be speaking to residents, conducting surveys and so on, to discover the 'will of the people.'
Excuse me, but why is a survey necessary to see if a particular minority demographic should be equal in rights to the majority? I think it's fair to state that one of Parliament's core duties is to ensure equality for all Australians. The injustice of restricting from gay couples the mutual and public expression of love that marriage represents is surpassed only by the injustice involved in Parliament thinking that it needs to 'check' with the public to see if it's okay to repeal it.
Edmund Barton, Australia's illustrious first Prime Minister, said once, "The doctrine of equality of man was never intended to apply to the equality of the Englishman and the Chinaman." How much further have we come since Federation?
Not far, it seems. Australian parliamentarians refusing to accept equality of a demographic moved from women in the late-19th Century to the 'Chinaman' in 1901, to the Japanese in 1919, and then onwards to 'native savages.' All of these, of course, are today considered equal, as are the left-handed students from the 50's who were caned by nuns for being possessed by Satan.
But no, let's all move on to gays, now. Let's take all that bigotry that we're no longer allowed to direct at people because of skin-colour, handedness or gender, and channel it with gusto at the poofs.
Let's break this down for a second, to the fundamental act of marriage. Say you're bisexual, and you're dating twins (with their consent, of course). They grew up in the same places, went to the same schools, studied the same subjects at the same university and got the same grades. They also share political and religious views. You're in love with them both, and they with you, but you now want to settle down and get married, so you have to choose one.
But they're brother-and-sister. In this case if you're a guy, the brother is not permitted to marry you, but the sister can. If you're a girl, vice versa.
The only variable between them is their gender. Both want to do exactly the same thing (marry you), but the gender of one of them -- and only their gender -- legally prevents them from doing it. This seems to be already covered in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984:
- Section 22(1)(a) states (inter alia): "It is unlawful for a person who provides goods or services to discriminate against another person on the ground of the other person’s sex by refusing to provide the other person with those goods or services." Would this not include marriage celebrants?
- Section 26(1) states (inter alia): "It is unlawful for a person who performs any function under a Commonwealth law, or has any responsibility for the conduct of a Commonwealth program, to discriminate against another person, on the ground of the other person’s sex, in the performance of that function or the fulfilment of that responsibility." Would this not include the various state-departments of births, deaths and marriages?
This may sound odd, but this actually isn't about homosexuality. How could it be? A gay man and gay woman can marry each other quite legally. It's merely the unsavoury combination of male-male or female-female coupling that's disallowed. But hang on, it's perfectly legal to have a same-sex relationship, too; you just can't get the certificate.
Section 5(1) of the Marriage Act 1961 defines 'marriage': "the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life." In 2003, a family court decision known as Re: Kevin ruled that a post-op transgender is deemed to be of the reassigned gender for the purposes of the Marriage Act. Okay, so that means if two men want to marry, one of them has to say bye-bye to their pee-pee. Same idea, but in reverse, for women. (The case was actually about a guy who was once a woman.)
So it's not a biological prohibition, by which I mean that with the transgender ruling, a man does not need an Adam's Apple, testicles or even a Y-chromosome to marry a woman and a woman doesn't need ovaries, a womb or a double-X chromosome to marry a man. And it's not a sexuality prohibition, meaning an LGBT person is still legally permitted to marry (someone legally identified as being of the opposite sex). And it's not a moral prohibition, because same-sex couples (sans marriage certificate) are already legal, acknowledged, accepted and embraced (for the most part) across the country.
So the practical effect of the legislation and resultant case law, therefore, is that the only barrier to a same-sex couple marrying is the presence of exactly one penis. Zero isn't enough, two is too many. What kind of law is that?
One could extrapolate further and conclude that an LGBT couple can't marry because they're just not gay enough. Only gays gay enough to go under the knife are allowed to be happy.
Here's a fun post-script: Section 23(2) of the Marriage Act prohibits only parent-child marriages and brother-sister marriages. This means that the Marriage Act prohibits same-sex marriage, but permits marriage between first-cousins or, say, an aunt and her nephew. Interesting priorities, no?