Same-sex Marriage Debate

Cover - Same-sex Marriage Debate
  • Same-sex Marriage Debate
  • Volume 352
  • Editor: Justin Healey
  • Print book ISBN: 978 1 922084 01 9
  • E-book ISBN: 978 1 922084 02 6
  • Year: 2013
  • E-book: $24.00

Same-sex marriages are currently not permitted under Australian federal law. Although same-sex couples in de facto relationships have had most of the legal rights of married couples since July 2009, there is however no national registered partnership or civil union scheme.

Public opinion polls in Australia consistently show majority support for same-sex marriage, yet political and legal opposition to it has stymied a number of recent attempts at state and federal level to legislate for ‘marriage equality’, which would require amending the federal Marriage Act.

Should marriage only be between a man and a woman, or are same-sex attracted people being denied the right to have their unions honoured by church and state in a moderm society which should recognise long-term commitment in relationships, regardless of sexuality?

What are the social, political, legal and religious considerations in the same-sex marriage debate? A balanced range of opinions from key commentators is presented in this book.

Chapter 1: Same-sex relationships and marriage

Chapter 2: Opinions opposed to same-sex marriage

Chapter 3: Opinions in favour of same-sex marriage

Worksheets and activities; Glossary; Fast facts; Web links; Index

Fast Facts

  • The same-sex law reform package passed through Parliament on 26 and 27 November 2008.
  • From 1 July 2009, over 80 Commonwealth laws were amended to recognise same-sex de facto partners.
  • Same-sex couples have access to domestic partnership registries in NSW, Tasmania and Victoria.
  • In 2004, the Marriage Act 1961 was amended in federal parliament to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
  • On 25 February 2010, the Marriage Equality Bill 2009 did not pass in the Australian Senate by a vote of 45-5.
  • In February 2012, two bills to allow gay marriage in Australia were introduced in Parliament.
  • In June 2004, a survey conducted by Newspoll showed that 38% of respondents supported same-sex marriage, with 44% opposed and 18% undecided.
  • A 2012 online survey received approximately 276,000 responses, including about 213,500 comments. Of these responses, it was reported that 64.3% supported same-sex marriage.
  • Studies have shown that only around 4% of Dutch homosexuals have gotten married during the first 5 years of legalisation.
  • In The Netherlands, where same-sex marriage was introduced in 2001, ‘cohabitation agreements’ have been used to give three-way relationships a measure of legal recognition.
  • The number of same-sex couples in Australia involves only 0.4% of all adults.
  • Homosexual couple relationships have been recognised in law in most States in an official relationship register.
  • According to research, only 10 countries out of nearly 200 have legalised same-sex marriages.
  • In 2011, the French Parliament rejected legislation for same-sex marriage.
  • The Australian Human Rights Commission and gay lobby activists often claim that denying homosexuals the right to same-sex marriage is a breach of human rights.
  • Financial penalties are now being imposed in Canada on marriage celebrants who defy the law and refuse to marry same-sex couples.
  • In the 1990s, Australian State and Territory governments began amending legislation to extend rights to same-sex de facto couples to remove discrimination based on sexual orientation in relationships.
  • Studies put the number of homosexuals at between 1.5 and 2% of the population.
  • The Federal Parliament amended 84 pieces of legislation after the 2010 election to place homosexual rights and entitlements on the same basis as others.
  • Massachusetts was the first US State to legalise same-sex marriage.
  • Hammurabi’s law, of 3,500 years ago, allowed homosexuals to enjoy sexual freedom and gave them rights, same-sex marriage was not included.
  • According to a national study 54% of Australian same-sex partners would marry if they had the choice.
  • Research shows that married partners, including same-sex married partners, are, on average, healthier, happier and longer lived, than their cohabiting peers, or singles.
  • There is a direct link between legal bans on same-sex marriage and higher levels of stress and anxiety, lower self-esteem, and greater incidence of mental and physical health problems among same-sex attracted people.
  • In Scandinavia, the formal recognition of same-sex relationships has been in place for a generation and same-sex marriage is now widely allowed.
  • Surveys have shown that about 30% of female same-sex couples, and about 15% of male same-sex couples, are raising children.
  • In Australia, some religious organisations and officials wish to legally marry same-sex partners in the same way as they legally marry opposite-sex partners.
  • The number of places overseas where same-sex couples are allowed to marry is not only increasing but accelerating.
  • In 2007 a poll found that 57% of those surveyed support marriage equality and in 2009 a poll using an identical question, showed 60% of those surveyed were in favour of marriage equality.
  • Civil unions do not offer the same legal benefits as marriage, even when the law says they should.
  • Research shows that only 25.6% of same-sex de facto partners would choose to be in a civil union, and only 17.7% would remain as de factos.
  • The 5 European nations (out of 38) that have legislated to ban same-sex unions: Lithuania, Moldova, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City, are those most under Catholic or Orthodox influence.
  • Paediatrics and behavioural sciences have shown same-sex parents are just as effective as heterosexual parents in child-rearing outcomes.
  • One-man-one-woman marriage as we know it today dates from the 16th century.
  • A study found that over 70% of married same-sex couples felt marriage had increased the level of commitment in their relationship.
  • In those US states that have allowed same-sex marriages, 30% of same-sex couples marry in the first year. In states with civil unions, only 18% take up the option.
  • Over 50% of the Australian population supports same-sex marriage; and three-quarters believe it will eventually become a reality.
  • In the last 40 years same-sex love has gone from being a criminal offence, and subject to persecution and violence, to being recognised by legislatures around the world.
  • Research reveals that, since 2001, a growing number of countries have legislated in favour of same-sex marriage.